Los Angeles Lakers reserve forward Antawn Jamsion was brought in to be a great scorer off the bench this season for a championship caliber team. However, after being given reduced minutes and not playing in the past five games, Jamison (via Mark Medina of L.A. Daily News) is beginning to question whether or not Los Angeles is the place for him.
Jamison is averaging a career low 7.2 points, 4.5 rebounds in just 20 minutes per game this season as a Laker. These numbers are notably below his career averages of 19.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 35.9 minutes per game. Even during his rookie campaign with Golden State (’98-99) he managed to post better numbers across the board.
Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times spoke to Antawn in more detail about his DNP’s after the Lakers recent blowout win Friday night against the Portland Trail Blazers:
Antawn Jamison has seen just about everything in his NBA career.
“Not this,” he said Friday after sitting out a fifth consecutive game via the dreaded DNP-Coach’s Decision.
“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.”
Jamison didn’t stop there:
“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.
“DNPs for the first time in my career. I have not had a conversation with [D’Antoni] about anything about the situation.”
ESPNLA writer Dave McMenamin spoke to head coach Mike D’Antoni briefly about Antawn not playing before the blow out win:
“Probably,” D’Antoni said, simply, when asked if Jamison would get a chance to cut his DNP-CD streak anytime in the near future. “Everybody gets another chance. We’re playing nine guys and I’m really liking Metta (World Peace) going and making us small. I like that. We don’t want to lose Antawn because he does what he does, but Darius (Morris), I want to keep developing him. His defense, his energy, his stuff of that sort. But, we’ll see. Antawn is ready to roll if we need him.”
“I’m sure he wants to play, as does any player wants to play, but he’s great,” D’Antoni said. “He’s a professional and he knows his chance will come around.”
Jamison did not play during the first three quarters because he has been out of the rotation. However, during the fourth quarter, with the lead well in hand, D’Antoni cleared the bench and sent in Robert Sacre, Devin Ebanks, and Earl Clark… while Jamison sat and watched.
Sacre, a rookie from Gonzaga, has spent time with the Lakers D-league affiliate Defenders and has played in 13 games with the Lakers. Ebanks, a young reserve forward, has played in 15 games this season. Earl Clark, acquired in the Dwight Howard trade, has played in 9 games with the team this season.
After the game, Coach D’Antoni spoke about Jamison not playing during garbage time:
After signing with the Lakers, Jamison came with lofty goals and expectations. It was widely assumed that he would come off the bench to add another threat to a team full of star players. With Steve Nash and Dwight Howard being added to the starting lineup, Jamison’s averages off the bench would provide the needed scoring punch to turn the Lakers from a good team, to a great team.
Unfortunately for Jamison, that has not happened yet. In a season full of peaks and valleys for the Laker faithful, Antawn’s absences have become an obstacle to overcome, instead of a pillar to rely on. Granted, the season is still young and there is plenty of time to turn things around. However, comments like these are sure to present problems if they are largely ignored in the locker room.
To date, Antawn Jamison has a reputation for being the consummate professional. It’s hard to speculate that his comments are anything more than a spill over moment of frustration about his lack of playing time.
Regardless of how he feels, the ball is not in his court.