NBA Free Agents 2012 Signings: What Antawn Jamison Acquisition Means for Lakers
Though there are conflicting reports about the Los Angeles Lakers' reported signing of power forward Antawn Jamison, the team seems on the precipice of adding another veteran presence to buoy the team's win-now mentality.
According to both camps, there is no formal offer on the table but it seems like more of a formality of salary structure than it does a question of whether it will happen or not.
The 6'9" former Tar Heel, whose family lives in North Carolina, was also pursued by the Charlotte Bobcats, and was reportedly torn between going home to finish out his career or a chance to compete for his first NBA championship.
But the allure of banners and playing with Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant was simply too much for him to pass up.
Outside of competing for championships, this also means a massive step down in strain for his aging body. At 36 years old, Jamison hasn't averaged fewer than 32 minutes per game in a season since 2003-04.
While Jamison has been a vestige for good health throughout his career, the minutes began wearing on him last season. Playing on the cellar-dwelling Cleveland Cavaliers, Jamison set a career high usage rate of 24.1 while setting career lows in shooting percentage and player efficiency rating.
Sitting behind All-Star Pau Gasol means no more 30-plus minute nights for Jamison and that's a good thing for both him and the Lakers.
Getting Jamison at a reduced role means they'll be getting Jamison at his best on a nightly basis. Despite his lowered efficiency, Jamison still put up 17.2 points per game and is a perfect catch-and-shoot stretch forward to pair with Nash.
The key here is that the Lakers could get Jamison at the veteran's minimum, making him the latest caper in general manager Mitch Kupchak's brilliant offseason so far.
Getting Jamison at the veteran's minimum allows the team to keep its $3 million mini mid-level exception to target the team's main remaining weakness—perimeter defense.
While Nash and Bryant are still among the league's top-tier on the offensive end, both players need shielded to a certain extent at their advanced age and current backup Steve Blake is a turnstile defensively as well.
The Lakers were linked to gunning guard O.J. Mayo before he announced his intention to sign with the Dallas Mavericks on Twitter Monday evening. But according to Hoopsworld.com's Yannis Koutroupis, the Lakers already had a contingency plan in place with restricted free agent Brandon Rush.
After spending the first three seasons of his career in Indiana, Rush moved over to Golden State this past season and developed a reputation as a sweet shooter who is among the league's best perimeter defenders coming off the bench.
And with the Lakers still interested in re-signing free agent power forward Jordan Hill as well, the team could be among the NBA's deepest just one season after struggling to find bench depth on the free agent market.
Most importantly, what guys like Jamison signing at a reduced salary means is that the Lakers are once again viewed as championship favorites.
Does Jamison's impending acquisition make the Lakers Western Conference favorites?
But Nash's arrival changed everything.
And with Jamison on his way to Los Angeles and the Dwight Howard rumors persisting, there may be more help on the way as the organization makes the strong push to raise its 18th championship banner.
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