WASHINGTON — The Cleveland Cavaliers
acquired Antawn Jamison on Wednesday night, the forward they hope will
fit in between LeBron James and Shaquille O'Neal on a championship front
Jamison goes to Cleveland from the Washington
Wizards in a three-team trade that sent Drew Gooden to the Los Angeles
Washington received Cavaliers center Zydrunas
Ilgauskas, a 2010 first-round draft pick and the rights to Emir
Preldzic, who was selected in the second round of last year's draft from
The Wizards also received forward Al Thornton
from Los Angeles.
Cleveland gets guard Sebastian Telfair from the
"Antawn is a great pro. We are very excited to
have an experienced all-star player of Antawn's caliber and character
join us," Cavaliers general manager Danny Ferry said in a statement
announcing the trade. "He has the ability to add a special, unique
dimension to our team with a strong inside presence and the ability to
stretch teams defensively, while impacting the entire court. We think he
matches the culture we have built, and continue to build, and will fit
well with our group on the court and off."
The Cavaliers had long coveted an athletic
power forward who could play on the perimeter after they were eliminated
by the Orlando Magic in last year's Eastern Conference finals.
They had reportedly been involved in trade
talks with Phoenix for Amare Stoudemire, but instead ended up with
another former All-Star.
Jamison, who had been with the Wizards since
2004, is averaging 20.5 points this season. He was not in uniform for
Washington's game with Minnesota on Wednesday.
"Antawn Jamison has been the embodiment of
leadership on and off the court for this franchise for five-and-a-half
seasons and we thank him for all he has done for the Wizards and the
city of Washington," Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said.
"Unfortunately, our on-court results have not met our expectations and
we felt it was necessary to make changes to improve our future and our
financial flexibility. This trade accomplished both of those
Jamison left the arena shortly before the
game. As he entered his car, he said to reporters: "Not now."
He did have a message for Wizards fans. "You
know I love them more than they love me."
Jamison should immediately step in at power
forward for Cleveland and supply James with another legitimate scoring
option as the Cavaliers' seek their first championship. Jamison is still
owed $28 million over the next two seasons.
Cleveland (43-11) already has the best record
in the NBA and can set a new franchise mark by winning its 14th straight
game Thursday night against Denver. Still, the Cavaliers couldn't pass
on the opportunity to add a proven veteran like Jamison, who can stretch
opposing defenses with his perimeter shooting and open up the lane for
James and O'Neal.
Ilgauskas, who is 34, has played his entire
12-year NBA career with the Cavaliers. He was supplanted as the starter
center by O'Neal this season. He's averaging 7.5 points and 5.3 rebounds
this season. His career averages are 13.9 points and 7.7 rebounds.
"Z has been a cornerstone part of this
franchise and his jersey will hang in the rafters here some day, not
only because of his play, but because of the tremendous person he is and
what he has meant to the franchise and the community," Ferry said. "He
has represented the Cavaliers, Cleveland and the NBA at a consistently
high level for many years. We wish Z and his family the best."
Ilgauskas' agent, Herb Rudoy, told the
(Cleveland) Plain Dealer that he would work quickly to get a buyout from
Washington. That would free up Ilgauskas to sign with another team —
including re-signing with the Cavaliers, although he'd have to wait 30
days to return to Cleveland.
"I've already heard from a few teams — good
teams — that are really interested in wanting to talk about Z going to
play for them," Rudoy told the paper.
James can become a free agent this summer,
leaving this as Cleveland's final shot at a championship before he
decides to stay or go. The Cavaliers also had the league's best record
last season, when they failed to reach the NBA finals.
Maybe Jamison can help them take that next
He was extremely popular not only with fans in
Washington, but also with his teammates and the late owner Abe Pollin.
After Gilbert Arenas was suspended indefinitely early last month,
Jamison was the one who was chosen to speak to the crowd before the Jan.
8 game. He apologized for a skit that pantomimed shooting guns, calling
it: "very embarrassing."
Now Jamison is gone and Wizards coach Flip
Saunders lauded him.
"He's one of the most professional guys I've
ever been around," Saunders said.
The Wizards acquired Gooden on Saturday in a
multiplayer trade that sent Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn
Stevenson to the Dallas Mavericks.
Gooden was reportedly seeking a buyout. Unlike
his three former Mavericks teammates, he did not practice with the
Wizards on Tuesday, but was at shootaround Wednesday morning. He was
listed as inactive.
"Basically, we started looking at
opportunities to clear cap space for this summer and in the meantime
acquire assets that we also liked," Clippers general manager Mike
Dunleavy said. "In the last two days, we were able to do that. And it
gives us the flexibility to pretty much go in a lot of different
Jamison was an All-Star in both 2005 and 2008,
and averaged 20.5 points in 41 games. He missed the first nine games of
this season with a sprained right shoulder.
The 33-year-old played his first five seasons
with Golden State and after playing the 2003-04 season with Dallas, was
traded to Washington. Jamison has a career average of 19.9 points.
The 6-foot-7 Thornton has averaged 13.7 in his
three-year career with the Clippers.
Telfair, who's 24, will be playing for his
fourth team. The former first-round pick has averaged 7.9 points in his
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