Antawn Jamison came to the Lakers to play an important role in the pursuit of winning an NBA championship. He took less money — signing for the minimum — because he saw the Lakers as his best shot to be a key contributor on a winning team after toiling on the hapless Cavs for the past several seasons.
However, after being a key part of the Lakers’ rotation under both Mike Brown and Mike D’Antoni in the Lakers’ first 25 games, Jamison has not played in the team’s last 5 games. And he’s not happy about it, according to Mike Bresnahan of the LA Times:
“Fifteen years,” the Lakers forward said, recapping his career. “My only thing is let me know why. I don’t think you go from starting and 30-something minutes to not in the rotation whatsoever. And not explaining to me what exactly happened, that’s the toughest thing. There’s nothing you can do but be positive and support your teammates. The only reason I came here was they said I was going to play and to win a championship.”
“There’s a competitor in me that wants to compete and I know I can help the team,” Jamison said. “Whenever I get answers, I guess I’ll feel more better about the situation but nothing has been told to me why nothing has happened or that I did anything wrong.”
After the first game Jamison didn’t play (a Laker win against the Bobcats), Mike D’Antoni said that Jamison and Jordan Hill would be out of the rotation for the time being. There wasn’t a reason given beyond D’Antoni saying it was due to “no fault” of the players or how they were playing.
But if Jamison is looking for a reason, he only need to look at the players in front of him and the skills they’re bringing to the table that he’s not currently providing.
The main player that’s stolen Jamison’s court time is Metta World Peace. Unlike Jamison, MWP is playing strong defense while also providing a more varied offensive attack. These are the traits the Lakers’ need from their forwards and, sadly, Jamison wasn’t providing them when he was exiled to the bench.
In the last 5 games he saw game action, Jamison scored a total of 15 points (going scoreless twice) while shooting 23% from the floor in 85 minutes. Along with these poor offensive numbers was a lack of attentiveness on defense — especially in transition and off the ball in the half court. Considering the Lakers’ struggles on the defensive side of the ball, it shouldn’t be a surprise that better defenders are seeing the court while he sits on the bench.
This isn’t to say that Jamison can’t help the team. He is a good player who has already shown his worth as a spark off the bench and down the line the team will need him to provide that same punch. Mike D’Antoni seems to understand this and has said that Jamison isn’t out of the rotation forever and that he’ll get another shot down the line.
But when simply looking at the players in front of him and how they’re playing on both sides of the ball, it really shouldn’t be a surprise he’s not seeing much burn right now. Even if Mike D’Antoni has not outright told him, it should be pretty clear why he’s the odd man out today.