In the 1996 movie Eddie, Whoopi Goldberg plays a die-hard Knicks fan who eventually becomes the team's head coach after winning a halftime contest. John Salley plays a wily old veteran player who is called on to step in and contribute after the team's superstar encounters some struggles. While the former will likely never happen in real life, the idea of players in their twilight stage being able to contribute on competitive teams is not a far-fetched occurrence in the NBA. Grant Hill, at 38-years-old, played in 81 regular season games and 16 playoff games averaging 30 MPG for a Suns team that reached the Western Conference Finals in 2010. Ray Allen, who is set to turn 37 this July, has played in at least 91% of his teams games and has averaged at least 34 MPG in each of his last three seasons with Boston. Waiting in the wings to play for a contending team is 35-year-old Antawn Jamison.
After being dealt three times in the span of his 14-year career, Jamison heads into this summer with the ability to choose his own destination. As we documented earlier this month, Jamison is unlikely to remain in Cleveland:
"I want to win," Jamison said. "Tomorrow is not promised. I might not be here next year. I can’t worry about what we’re planning for next year. For me and a lot of these other guys, what can we do now? It was tough to know we were so close [to playoff contention] and instead of taking steps forward, we took dramatic steps backward."
Boasting averages of 17.8 PPG and 6.4 RPG, Jamison will be an attractive free agent for contending teams who will not have to break the bank too much in order to add a valuable rotation player. Another selling point will be how healthy he's been able to keep himself this season, playing 33.7 MPG and starting in all the 57 games he's played in. While his 41.2 FG% this year is less than spectacular, I doubt that he will maintain such a high volume of attempts (16.5) wherever he winds up next year.
Jamison can play either forward spot, and his skill set can be effectively utilized in small lineups. His long-range shooting ability could force conventional power forwards to guard him out on the perimeter where they are uncomfortable defensively, which consequently spaces the floor and opens the driving lanes for his teammates. His numbers also show that he can still be active on the glass, as his 2 offensive RPG average would indicate. Jamison may very well be a modicum of productivity with a team's second unit, given the type of numbers he's been able to put up this season.
I would think that both the Heat and Thunder would be on the radar, or at least have interest from Antawn's side. Chicago still has Carlos Boozer, Taj Gibson, Ronnie Brewer, Luol Deng, and Jimmy Butler in their forward crop, so it doesn't necessarily look like an ideal fit at this point. The Lakers could also show some interest, but they are still in line to handle Ramon Sessions' status as an unrestricted free agent and will exercise Andrew Bynum's $16.1MM team option for next season (not to mention that they would be pushing themselves considerably further above the luxury tax). This is all speculation of course, but I would think that whoever is still active in late May/early June will be a candidate to land Jamison in July.