The Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly on the verge of signing two-time NBA All-Star, Antawn Jamison.
Over the past week, while also trying to figure out a trade proposal that would get them Dwight Howard, Mitch Kupchak and Co. have been working hard to find suitable, solid roleplayers to fill out the bench.
Last year, this team boasted the sorriest reserve unit of any squad in The Association – something that ended up really costing them as the playoffs progressed. Given the advanced ages of most of the starting five, a lack of depth will unquestionably kill any shot the Lakers have at seriously contending for a title next year, too.
Up to this point L.A. has been linked to available players including, but not limited to: Grant Hill, Jermaine O’Neal, Brandon Rush, O.J. Mayo and Jodie Meeks. So far, though, nobody has actually bitten. For all the talk and all the speculation, nobody has agreed to come on board.
This is a complicated situation, so let’s take it from the top. Late Monday afternoon, David Aldridge of NBA.com sent out the following tweet:
Source confirms "strong interest" by Jamison in Lakers, says deal not done. Charlotte Observer says Jamison "will" be a Laker, per source.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 16, 2012
That report Aldridge referenced, the one from Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer, said this:
The Charlotte Bobcats have lost out on free agent Antawn Jamison, who will sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, the Observer has learned.
The Bobcats were recruiting free agent Jamison as both a power forward and a veteran mentor to a young team. Jamison was torn between the chance to play for his hometown team or to pursue a championship with what figures to be his last NBA contract.
So, boom – done deal. The Lakers have officially extended an offer to Jamison, and he’s accepted. Right? Not exactly…
Free agent Antawn Jamison to talk to @Lakers Tuesday, source said. Vet forward excited to play with Kobe & Nash, but still awaiting offer.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) July 16, 2012
According to that report, L.A. hasn’t actually extended an offer to Jamison yet. Still, even though Spears disputes the notion that Jamison has an offer from the Lakers, he seems to agree that once an offer is presented, Jamison will accept.
That’s not as great as having a signature on the dotted line – but it’ll do for now.
A little later in the afternoon, Mike Trudell of Lakers.com posted an interview with Kupchak. They covered a bunch of topics, but here is the piece that’s especially pertinent to this whole Jamison deal:
Q: On preferring veteran’s minimum contracts to fill out the roster:
Kupchak: That’s the only way we can fill out our roster. With the new collective bargaining rules, it restricts what we can do. Right now, I don’t think we’ll use the mini mid-level exception. But other than that, all we have is the minimums. And with five high-salaried players, there’s only so much you can expect the owner to do, whether the rules permitted or not. I think we’ve demonstrated that this organization wants to win with the Steve Nash signing, but you can’t just go out there and sign the world.
Translation: The Lakers are offering Jamison less than what his other suitors, including the Bobcats, are offering. That means if he really wants to play for the Lakers, Jamison would have to take far less money than he could get from another squad in what will likely be the last NBA contract he’ll ever get.
What’s the likelihood of that? Kupchak answered that question while speaking with Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
Just talked to Mitch Kupchak about Antawn Jamison. He acknowledged interest but said: "We're not about to do anything. I would know."— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) July 17, 2012
Kupchak added that "9 times out of 10" a player will choose the more lucrative offer on the table.— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) July 17, 2012
Which obviously brings us back to square one.
Who’s ultimately telling the truth? Will Jamison sign with L.A.? Why are all these guys contradicting one another? We’ll find out the answer to two out of three of those questions soon enough.