Heat also interested in Jamison?

Yes, according to the Washington Post‘s Wizards insider Michael Lee

I’ve been told that the Cavaliers aren’t the only team interested in Jamison. Miami has also expressed interest of late, according to a league source.

When I played basketball for Bo Ryan at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, there was a player there who always was scrunching up his face when he was upset. Bo would ask him why he looked like he just ate a sour pickle. Why did I just tell you that? Well, when I heard this rumor, I made the “pickle face.”

Even with Dwyane Wade’s player option on the books, the Heat will have $20 million in cap space this summer. Without it, they’ll have $37 million to spend. Why in the world would they invest almost $29 million over the next two years in a 33-year-old power forward?

If a potential deal included Michael Beasley and Daequan Cook, the net increase in payroll would be around $6.3 million, effectively reducing the Heat’s cap space to around $31 million, which would theoretically be enough to re-sign Wade and another superstar free agent. The Heat would then build around Wade, Jamison and the superstar in question (LeBron, Bosh, Stoudemire). Under these circumstances, it would seem that the Heat would simply rather have Jamison than Beasley, thinking that Jamison at 35 would still be better than Beasley at 23.

I’m not so sure about that.

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Butler, Jamison for Ray-Ray?

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports says that the Wizards and Celtics are discussing a blockbuster deal.

In a dramatic move that would resuscitate their fading championship hopes, the Boston Celtics are discussing a deal with the Washington Wizards for forwards Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler, league sources told Yahoo! Sports on Friday.

The proposed deal would send the expiring contracts of Ray Allen, Brian Scalabrine and J.R. Giddens to the Wizards, a move that would signal the start of Washington’s rebuilding process.

The trade isn’t imminent, but talks have progressed and Celtics GM Danny Ainge has positioned his organization to make one of the boldest trade deadline moves in years. For the Celtics, ownership would have to agree to take on an additional $24 million in salary next season between Jamison and Butler. Jamison makes more than $15 million in 2011-12, but most owners are discounting those salaries because of an assumption that there will be a labor lockout and some, if not all, of that money will never be paid to the players.

For his part, Celtics GM Danny Ainge denies the rumors:

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Friday he has not discussed trades involving the Charlotte Bobcats or Washington Wizards.

“There is no truth to either one of those,” Ainge said. “I have had conversations with a lot of teams but those have never been discussed. There are a lot of things I would like to do but I don’t feel a need to do something. I am always looking to upgrade the team, if possible.”

Have you ever heard a GM confirm a trade rumor? They always deny, deny, deny. So there’s no telling if there’s any truth to it, though Wojnarowski is a respected NBA writer.

Obviously, this trade would be a coup for the Celtics in terms of talent. Ray Allen isn’t playing horribly (16-3-3, 45% shooting), but he’s shooting a career-low 34% from long range and is 34 years old. Caron Butler (29) and Antawn Jamison (33) are both younger, and are both All-Star caliber players. Wojnarowski mentioned that the contracts are a concern (especially Jamison’s), but if the two players gelled in the Celtics’ lineup, it would push the franchise back into serious title contention.

However, it would be difficult to get the C’s five best players on the court. Paul Pierce and Caron Butler can play on the wings, but for Jamison to play PF, that means Kevin Garnett would play center. Against certain teams (say, Atlanta), this wouldn’t be a problem, but KG would get beat up down low against Shaq and Dwight Howard. Offensively, this lineup would allow the C’s to spread the floor and post up Pierce, Jamison and Butler in favorable matchups.

For Washington, this trade would confirm what we all already know — the Wizards are rebuilding. If I were running things, I’d hold onto Butler (since his contract is affordable) or at least wait for someone to offer a good young piece. The deal, as outlined, is simply a salary dump. The Wizards would be giving Jamison and Butler away for cap flexibility. With this trade, the Wizards would have approximately $20 million in cap space this summer, and that assumes Gilbert Arenas is still on the payroll.

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LeBron claims he hasn’t lobbied for Jamison

After the Cavs’ 115-106 win over the Magic on Thursday, LeBron James denied ever lobbying that his team make a deadline trade for Antwan Jamison, or any other player for that matter. (Chris Sheridan, ESPN)

Do the Cavs still need what’s known as a “stretch 4,” a power forward such as Antawn Jamison who can play inside and outside, another pricey piece to add to the puzzle in an effort not only to win a championship but also to convince LeBron James to stay in Cleveland past July 1?

It’s such a good question, we went ahead and asked it of James after the power forwards currently on Cleveland’s roster, J.J. Hickson and Anderson Varejao, both had huge games in Thursday night’s 115-106 victory over the Orlando Magic.

“I never said we needed one,” James said, immediately putting himself at odds with what is being whispered around the league — that James has made it known that he wants the Cavs to find a way to acquire Jamison. “I think our team is built to win a championship, and with the group of guys we have here, if we continue to get better we’re headed in the right direction.”

“So I haven’t really thought about the trade deadline or what guys are on the board or whatever, so we’ll continue to play the way we know how to play,” James said.

Hickson and Varejao combined for 36 points and eight rebounds Thursday night, outplaying the Magic’s PFs Rashard Lewis (19 points, 4 rebounds) and Ryan Anderson (5 points, 2 rebounds).

That’s all well and good, but this is eerily similar to the pre-deadline position that the Cavs found themselves in last year. They were playing well and looking strong, so they elected to stand pat at the trade deadline. We all know how that turned out.

I’m not saying that trading Hickson would be the right move. We just don’t know. But in Jamison we’re talking about a two-time All-Star who is averaging 20.5 points and 8.8 rebounds, even at 33 years old. I think it’s safe to say that he’s going to be better than Hickson for the rest of this season and next.

The Cavs could just be posturing, hoping to get themselves the best possible deal next week. But if they lead another deadline pass without making a move, and this season ends the same way, it isn’t going to be pretty.

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LeBron wants Antawn Jamison

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com says that LeBron James is the driving force behind the Cavs’ renewed interest in Antawn Jamison.

It’s been well documented that the Cavaliers’ infatuation with Antawn Jamison has been rekindled. What’s been underplayed is the reason behind it: LeBron James is the one driving the team’s pursuit of Jamison, according to a source, and Cavs GM Danny Ferry – as usual – is trying to appease the King. A couple of problems: The Wizards want a young asset in return, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas – while a fit salary-wise – doesn’t fit that description. The sensible piece to include in the deal would be J.J. Hickson, whom the Cavs are reluctant to give up. But if the Cavs got Jamison, what value would Hickson be to them as their fifth big man? One scenario that is believed to be under discussion would have the Cavs hoping the Wizards bought out Ilgauskas after the trade, using some cash added to the deal by Cleveland. That way, the Cavs could sign Ilgauskas back on a minimum deal, giving them the player James covets (Jamison) and a 7-foot-4 insurance policy for Shaquille O’Neal. The Wizards would have to ask themselves if getting out from under Jamison’s contract and adding Hickson is enough to justify a deal that would get them under the tax next summer, but not under the cap.

If the Cavs can’t get Jamison, Indiana’s Troy Murphy is Plan B. And yes, there’s a Plan C — Andre Iguodala. Whereas the Cavs’ front office believes Jamison could help them win a championship this year, Iguodala would be more of a long-term solution. And he better be, with four years and $56 million left on his deal.

Even though Jamison is playing better right now than Caron Butler, he’s also four years older (33) and has a much more expensive contract (Jamison: 2-years, $28.4 million, Butler: 1-year, $10.6 million). For a team like the Wizards, who at this point are just trying to get into a position where they can rebuild, Jamison is just too old to be a part of that process. So it makes sense to add a promising young prospect like Hickson, though they’d probably have to agree to buy out Zydrunas Ilgauskas as part of the trade, so that the Cavs can re-sign him.

Cleveland needs to keep LeBron happy. If he wants Jamison, then they should try to acquire him. He’s a smallish power forward who can also play small forward when the Cavs want to buy a few minutes rest for LeBron. He’s a nice matchup for Rashard Lewis and could potentially give Pau Gasol fits in the Finals, forcing the Lakers to bench one of their big men. With Boston faltering and the Magic looking pretty shaky, Cleveland is a great bet to make the Finals, and if they were to pass on Jamison and lose to the Lakers or some other Western Conference foe, LeBron would have some valid reasons to leave. If they do acquire Jamison and lose in the Finals, then at least the franchise was willing make moves to try to improve the team. With a core of Jamison and Mo Williams, LeBron might be more willing to return to Cleveland.

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Should the Cavs acquire Antawn Jamison or Troy Murphy?

ESPN’s Chad Ford breaks down the 25 impact players most likely to be traded before the NBA’s Feb. 18 trade deadline. [Insider subscription required.]

1. Antawn Jamison, F, Wizards
Jamison is at the top of this list for three reasons. First, the Wizards are a mess and seem to be moving rapidly toward a fire sale. Second, Jamison is in the latter stages of his career. Neither he nor the Wizards want him stuck on a terrible team. Third, a number of contenders want him, namely the Cavs. That’s the perfect recipe for a big deadline trade.

2. Troy Murphy, F, Pacers
The Pacers look as though they’re moving toward a youth movement as they continue to build around Danny Granger. With a number of contending teams interested in Murphy, the Pacers seem to be in the right place to make a deal. While Murphy may be overpaid, there are few bigs in the league that can rebound and spread the floor the way he can. With just one more year left on his contract, Murphy could be the missing piece for a team trying to compete for a title.

The Cavs seem to have the most interest, though several other teams have also told me they’ll make a run at him. At the very least, the Pacers should be able to deal Murphy for expiring contracts and one asset (either a draft pick or a young prospect).

3. Tayshaun Prince, F, Pistons
Joe Dumars didn’t expect the Pistons to be championship contenders this season. But he also didn’t anticipate the team losing 13 games in a row. The fact that the Pistons drafted three small forwards in last year’s draft and that two of them — Jonas Jerebko and Austin Daye — look very promising is all you need to know. The word on the street is that the Pistons are in very active trade discussions on Prince.

While the team would prefer to move Richard Hamilton, I don’t think they’re going to be able to find a home for him given his enormous contract. If the Pistons can swap Prince for some help in the paint, they’ve got to do it. The combination of Charlie Villanueva, Jason Maxiell, Ben Wallace and Kwame Brown just isn’t getting it done.

It makes sense that Jamison is more likely on his way out of Washington than his teammate, Caron Butler. Butler is younger (29) and has a better contract, and the Wizards could actually build around him for 3-4 years if they chose to do so.

It looks like Ford believes that there’s a good chance that the Cavs will end up with either Jamison or Murphy. Both are power forwards who can spread the court with good outside shooting.

Here is what John Hollinger had to say about Jamison’s defense:

If Jamison has a weakness, it’s his defense, and the absence of Brendan Haywood last year magnified that problem. He’s a disinterested help defender who rarely blocks shots or takes charges, and quicker forwards beat him off the dribble easily because his lateral movement isn’t great. He does a decent job on the boards and doesn’t foul, but he needs to be paired with a big, tough center to hide his shortcomings.

And here are his thoughts about Murphy on that end of the floor:

While he’s a tremendous rebounder with a strong frame and a knack for positioning, his lack of foot speed hurts him at the defensive end, too. He struggles to contest shots or defend long post players and is particularly bad at moving laterally to defend pick-and-rolls.

To sum up, Murphy is a better three-point shooter (40% to 35%), but Jamison is probably better able to match up with Rashard Lewis, who gave the Cavs fits in last year’s playoffs. Murphy has one more season at the tune of $12.0 million, while Jamison has two more years and $28.4 remaining on his contract. Murphy (29) is four years younger than Jamison (33).

Acquiring Murphy would allow for more flexibility in a year or two, but with LeBron’s future up in the air, Danny Ferry should make a move for the player he thinks is most able to help the Cavs win a championship now. Maybe it’s Murphy, maybe it’s Jamison. They both bring different things to the table.

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