Report: Antawn Jamison is frustrated by lack of playing time, seeks explanation

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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.

James Harden helped recruit Lou Williams to Houston

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The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.

While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”

Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”

We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.

Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.

Take a look back at just how great Shaq was with the Lakers (VIDEO)

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Shaquille O’Neal was as dominant a force as the NBA has ever seen.

His peak years came with the Lakers, when paired with Kobe Bryant one the court — and Phil Jackson manipulating both of them — they won three titles (and arguably would have had more if they stayed together). Those Lakers teams were one of the NBA’s great teams.

Friday night, the Lakers unveil Shaq’s statue at Staples Center. Take a look back at some of Shaq’s Lakers highlights.

 

Warriors’ Matt Barnes on facing Kings: ‘I’m trying to kill ’em’

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The Kings were very good to Matt Barnes.

They signed him to a two-year contract worth more than $12.5 million when it seemed he wouldn’t come close to that on the market. Then they waived him, allowing him to receive all his salary and escape basketball hell for the Warriors, who make him much happier.

Yet, he’s going into tonight’s Golden State-Sacramento game with an edge.

Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle (hat tip: CSN Bay Area):

Matt Barnes holding a grudge? Why, I never.

Surging Heat have playoffs in sight after dreadful start

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MIAMI (AP) — They have won 24 times in their last 31 games. They put together the NBA’s longest winning streak this season, a 13-game run that was beyond surprising. They are on the cusp of doing something never accomplished in NBA history.

This Miami Heat comeback tale has been an epic one.

And now comes the toughest part – finishing the job.

None of the other 125 teams in NBA history who started 11-30 or worse made the NBA playoffs. The Heat, with 10 games left on their regular-season schedule, are in position to change that. They held the second-worst record in the league in mid-January, are tied with San Antonio for the best record since, and hold a one-game lead over Chicago and Detroit for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot entering Friday’s games.

“These guys want this so bad,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra – a reluctant coach of the year candidate who cringes when players lobby on his behalf – said Thursday after a loss to the Toronto Raptors. “They want this opportunity to be in the playoffs. We’ve fought, scratched, done everything we possibly can to put ourselves into a position to fight for it.”

More fighting and scratching awaits.

Of Miami’s final 10 games, a stretch that starts Sunday in Boston, eight are against teams still battling for either a playoff spot or playoff positioning. The only two exceptions are a home-and-home next week with New York, which earlier this season was seven games ahead of the Heat in the standings and now are eight games behind Miami (35-37).

“We’ve dug ourselves out of a deep ditch,” Heat center and NBA rebounding leader Hassan Whiteside said.

True, but they’re not on firm playoff footing yet.

Under normal circumstances, Whiteside almost certainly would not have played Thursday. He needed 13 stitches to repair a cut in his right (shooting) hand on Tuesday, and a similar injury two years ago left him sidelined for three games.

Not only did he start Thursday, he led the Heat with 16 points and 14 rebounds. Afterward, he had icepacks strapped to both of his knees, covered his right hand in a clear plastic bag so the stitches wouldn’t get wet in the shower, and had his newly sprained left ankle wrapped.

“He’s a tough dude,” Heat point guard Goran Dragic said.

He hasn’t been the only one.

Factoring in that Chris Bosh‘s on-court tenure with the Heat was declared over when he failed a physical in September, Miami has had at least two players unavailable to play in every game this season because of health reasons. Since Jan. 1, it’s been at least three every game – and often more.

A huge blow came last week when shooting guard Dion Waiters sprained his left ankle. He’s at three missed games and counting, and the Heat offense has struggled since.

“This is that time of the year,” Spoelstra said. “Everybody is feeling it, so this is the mental toughness we have to get to.”

The Heat have no practice Friday, though most players will be in the training room for treatments. Practice resumes Saturday, preceding the flight to Boston. And then Sunday, the 10-game sprint to the finish begins.

“I want our guys to enjoy this,” Spoelstra said. “I don’t feel that we’re putting any undue pressure, but everybody will feel like when they lose that the world is collapsing. This playoff race is still going on. And I think we need a day to get away from it, to decompress and to get back to work on Saturday.”