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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