The Los Angeles Clippers aren't done getting better.
According to ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne, the Clippers have come to terms with free-agent forward Antawn Jamison on a one-year deal for the veteran's minimum.
Antawn Jamison has signed with the Clippers. Done deal.— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) August 26, 2013
Antawn Jamison's deal with the Clippers is for one year at the veteran minimum.— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) August 26, 2013
Los Angeles has already bolstered its roster with the acquisitions of J.J. Redick, Jared Dudley and Darren Collison, and Jamison's addition helps round out its free-agency coup.
Jamison, 37, spent last year with the Los Angeles Lakers, where he averaged a career-low 9.4 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. He underwent surgery to repair a slight tear in his right wrist following the Lakers' elimination from the playoffs.
Since then, Jamison has been linked to a number of teams, including the Clippers. But at the beginning of August, he admitted he had no intention of rushing into his decision, hence his continued availability.
"I think last year, getting the opportunity to play for the Lakers and their organization, I really jumped into it," he told the Sporting News' DeAntae Prince. "Didn't really view my options, but this year I really want to make sure I'm going to the right situation, where I have a good rapport with the coaching staff and also with management I'm able to communicate and get an understanding of what they want from me.
Hell bent on contending for a championship, Jamison didn't have to look any further than across the Staples Center to find a sensible fit.
A Clear Need
The Clippers still have holes.
Considering how active they've been this summer, it's hard to believe they still have needs to address. But they do, specifically in the frontcourt.
Here's a look at their projected depth chart heading into next season:
|Point Guard||Chris Paul||Darren Collison||Maalik Wayns|
|Shooting Guard||J.J. Redick||Jamal Crawford||Willie Green|
|Small Forward||Jared Dudley||Matt Barnes||Reggie Bullock|
|Power Forward||Blake Griffin||Byron Mullens|
|Center||DeAndre Jordan||Ryan Hollins|
Depth chart info via ESPN.com.
Though Los Angeles stretches three deep at every perimeter-oriented slot, the low-post rotation isn't teeming with as much depth. At the 4 and 5, the Clippers run two deep, which is a problem.
Blake Griffin figures to log 35-plus minutes a night, but injuries helped limit him to just 32.5 last season. Doc Rivers will monitor his minutes closely to ensure he is ready for the stretch run. Byron Mullens and his career average of 8.4 points per game isn't the only player you'll want to rely on if he does rest Griffin.
Mullens notched a personal-best 10.6 points per game last season, but having spent the last two years on the lowly Charlotte Bobcats, it's difficult to project how he'll fare on a contender.
Openly admitting that just having Mullens to backup Griffin is not enough depth isn't so much an insult as it is a universal fact. Even someone like Ryan Anderson, one of the best backup stretch forwards in the game, wouldn't be enough. And it's not just because of how prone to excessive contact Griffin is either.
Look at Los Angeles' center rotation. Neither DeAndre Jordan nor Ryan Hollins is offensively skilled. Moreover, they combined to average just 35.6 minutes per game last season.
The Clippers hope one of them developed a semblance of a post game this offseason, but the odds of that actually happening are slim. Given how limited their abilities are on that end of the floor, the Clippers will be forced to run small for stretches at a time if they wish to score in bunches.
The way the power forward situation is presently set up, going small dictates Griffin be used at center—just like last season. According to 82games.com, he spent 15 percent of the team's total minutes (nearly a quarter of his own) at the 5 in 2012-13.
When he's there this year, the Clippers will look to their stretch forwards to carry production at the 4. Turning to Mullens or even Matt Barnes is a possibility, and one with obvious upside. In Jamison, however, they have a career stretch 4 who has only averaged under 10 points per game twice in his 15-year career.
Those 18.8 points per game over the last decade-and-a-half easily eclipse the 16.1 Barnes and Mullens have combined to post for their careers. Duplicating those numbers on a team with so many weapons, and at the age of 37, is improbable, but no matter how old he is, he adds tested scoring to an area of need.
Which makes this signing a no-brainer.
Jamison isn't going to put on a Clippers jersey and score like he did with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
An aging body won't allow him to log 30-plus minutes a game, and neither will Rivers. Los Angeles won't be leaning on Jamison the way his past teams have. Think 20 minutes per bout, close to what he averaged with the Lakers, only minus the unfortunate results.
For however long he's on the floor, he's going to be a lethal scoring threat. That's what he does. And the ways in which he scores will advance an already strong offensive dynamic.
But they still couldn't find a way to knock down threes consistently.
Los Angeles connected on 35.8 percent of its deep balls, the 15th-best mark in the NBA.
Jamison has been lights out from the strong-side corner and witch's nipple, hitting 37.8 and 38.3 percent from those spots, respectively, for his career.
His floor spacing from the right side can be invaluable for teams with incisive playmakers. Just ask Kobe Bryant.
Below you'll see Kobe begin to drive right:
Jamison is already camped out in the corner, and you can see Kobe drawing the attention of the defenders; almost every single one of the Phoenix Suns' players are looking his way.
Once Kobe gets deeper into the lane, Phoenix converges on him:
Not only has he drawn a triple-team, the two other defenders farthest from him have their eyes fixated on his position.
Recognizing that Jamison is all by himself in the corner, Kobe whips a pass his way:
By the time Jamison catches it, the nearest Sun has no chance of closing him out before he releases. It's not even close.
At some point you've probably realized the Clippers don't have a player like Kobe Bryant on the team.
They do, however, have Chris Paul. Paul makes a living—and annual All-Star appearances—off his dribble penetration.
You get the point.
Right-corner savants, and shooters in general, are valuable commodities alongside dribble penetrators who collapse defenses. Paul likes to get in the paint, defenses tend to zero in on him, and Jamison can capitalize on the open looks.
Let me count the ways in which Jamison can score, because there are more than you probably think.
A cursory glance at Los Angeles' roster tells you it's not brimming with low-post scorers. The Clippers were fifth in the league in points scored in the paint last season (44.8 per game), but alley-oops and dribble penetration played a role in driving up that number.
Even with Griffin, the Clippers don't have a self-sufficient post scorer. Griffin's game is improving, but is he really enough? Aside from him, where do the Clippers go if they want to throw the ball inside? Jordan? Hollins?
Per Synergy Sports (subscription required), Jamison average 1.06 points per post-up possession, converting 50 percent of all his field-goal attempts in those situations. Look at how that compares to the rest of Los Angeles' front line:
His post-up points per possession were the highest of all the 4s on the roster, as was his 50 percent clip under those circumstances. While he isn't an end-all, be-all in the post, he does give the Clippers an additional option.
Chances are he won't spend much time in the paint anyway, but he can. That's what matters. His versatility, ability to play on or off the ball, score from the inside and out and potency in spurts—the Clippers' bench needs that.