“OMG OMG, Antawn Jamison would put us over the top. He averaged 17 points last year!”—every Los Angeles Lakers fan right now.
Fans of the Purple and Gold are still on an unbelievable high after the Steve Nash coup, and now they are looking for management to go for the jugular.
According to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, the Lakers are looking to bring in free-agent forward Antawn Jamison. ESPN Los Angelels' Dave McMenamin adds Elton Brand and Jermaine O’Neal to the list.
While the talk of Brand and O’Neal are brand-new rumors, Jamison has been linked to the Lakers for a couple days now.
The Lakers have what Bresnahan calls a “mini” mid-level exception, which would give Jamison up to $3.1 million. If not, they could only give him the veteran’s minimum. While the Charlotte Bobcats are also a major player to sign the hometown hero, according to David Scott of the Charlotte Observer, if Jamison wants a shot at a championship he’ll obviously pick the Purple and Gold.
Don’t get too excited, Lakers fans.
A year after averaging 17.2 points per game for the Cleveland Cavaliers, he would certainly fill the offensive void that Metta World Peace hasn’t been able to fill recently. This would be a good thing considering the Lakers averaged 97.3 points last regular season (15th in the league).
That’s not the issue here; the problem I have with Jamison going to the Lakers is how awful he’ll make the team’s defense. Jamison is easily one of the worst veteran defenders in the NBA, and after 14 years in the league, I’m pretty sure he isn’t going to miraculously change next year.
He has weak foot speed, doesn’t anticipate opponents' moves and isn’t exactly the most physical and intimidating bully in the league. Reading this quote that Jamison gave the Cleveland Plain Dealer before last season's start is really all you need to know about his defensive proficiency:
"I think defensively I have to not be a liability, and when we watch film coach can always rely on me being in the right spots and not being the teaching point of our film sessions," Jamison said. "I think defensively letting guys know I'm not what they call a defensive specialist but just through hard work and paying attention I can improve on that."
With Nash now on board, the Lakers defense has already taken a significant hit. Adding an even worse defender would be put far too much pressure on Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol to cover for their mistakes.
The Lakers don’t need more scorers—they need guys who can rebound and provide sound defense both on the perimeter and in the paint.
Guys like Elton Brand or Jermaine O’Neal.
Brand, a 13-year veteran, averaged 7.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in under 30 minutes a game last year. He is one of the best at boxing out and denying offensive rebounds. O’Neal isn’t as proficient as a rebounder, but he did block 1.7 shots in only 22.8 minutes of action a night this past year.
I think Brand is the better fit of the two, and is certainly a more essential acquisition than Jamison. Bottom line: The Lakers don’t need Jamison and his defensive woes. Brand is the way to go.