Thursday, February 18, 2010
Jamison's role with Cavs undetermined
CLEVELAND -- The Cavaliers and their newest star have something in common.
Neither has ever won a championship.
Together, they hope to fix that in June.
Newly acquired Antawn Jamison shakes hands with Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert.
"There's only one thing left for me to achieve," Antawn Jamison said Thursday. "It's the one thing that keeps me going. It's the one thing that drives me night in and night out. I said to myself, 'It's going to happen before I retire.' I don't have another five or 10 years left in this body. I'm just blessed to be put in this situation."
The best team in the league filled its last glaring hole when Cavs GM Danny Ferry acquired Jamison on Wednesday in a three-team trade with Washington and the Los Angeles Clippers. Now the Cavaliers can trot out a frontcourt of Jamison, Shaquille O'Neal and LeBron James, a trio with a combined 23 All-Star appearances.
This was Cleveland's final statement to James before his pending free agency this summer that the team is dedicated to winning its first championship.
"We're trying to build a franchise that all players want to be a part of, that can have sustainable success and do things at a high level," Ferry said. "Clearly LeBron's an important player for Northeast Ohio, for Cleveland, for the Cavaliers. It's all ground in winning, too. Antawn can help us win. We're excited what he can bring to us over the next few years."
It came at a hefty price for a team already well over the salary cap. The Cavaliers were forced to trade away Zydrunas Ilgauskas, while Cavs owner Dan Gilbert swallowed the remaining $28 million owed to Jamison over the next two years.
Trading Ilgauskas was the most difficult part for Ferry, since the two were Cavaliers teammates at one time. Ilgauskas has spent his entire 12-year career with the Cavaliers and is the career leader in games played, blocks and rebounds. He is second in scoring to James.
Ferry called Ilgauskas on Wednesday night to tell him the news.
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"It was not a fun conversation," Ferry said. "But he was very professional, just like you'd expect."
Ferry admitted he's been trying to get Jamison in Cleveland for the last couple of years. Washington finally relented when it began rebuilding following the season-long suspension of Gilbert Arenas.
The Cavaliers shipped Ilgauskas to Washington, along with a 2010 first-round draft pick and the rights to Emir Preldzic, who was selected in the second round of last year's draft. The Wizards also received forward Al Thornton from Los Angeles.
Cleveland gets guard Sebastian Telfair from the Clippers, who received Drew Gooden from the Wizards.
The chance to add a scorer like Jamison, who has averaged nearly 20 points for his career, was too good for Cleveland to pass up.
"I didn't feel we had to do something," Ferry said. "It was a great position to be in. Our guys have done a great job in giving us the ability to only make a decision if there was something that really excited us and caught our eye."
Now it is up to Cavaliers coach Mike Brown to make all the pieces fit. At 43-11, Cleveland already has the league's best record and is riding a 13-game winning streak. Tinkering with that sort of chemistry can be dangerous, but Ferry believes the addition of Jamison will be seamless.
"It's not going to be without its challenges," Ferry said. "Mike is going to have some hard decisions to make. The depth we have on this roster; Mike has a lot of tough decisions to make night in and night out."
Brown isn't sure yet whether Jamison will start or come off the bench. After speaking with Jamison, Brown is confident he'll fit in either role.
"His character is off the charts," Brown said. "To me, chemistry equates to trust. He's a guy you can easily trust and you feel the same coming back."
Jamison could not be activated in time for Thursday's game against Denver. Instead, he watched the game from a luxury suite. He could be in the lineup Friday at Charlotte.
Jamison heard he had been traded just as he was headed out onto the floor for Washington's game against Minnesota on Wednesday night.
"It's been surreal," Jamison said. "To one day be in the situation that is really tough and you don't see anything positive coming out of it to the next day, right before you're about to go out and suit up, I probably heard the greatest news of my whole career."