With all the big-money free agents off the board, and most of the mid-level types scooped up as well, HoopsHype.com currently ranks Antawn Jamison as the best option still available. While there are plenty of candidates among the remaining free agents to have better 2013/14 seasons than Jamison, it's hard to argue that any other unsigned player matches his combination of talent and track record. As such, it's worth trying to figure out where the veteran forward may land.
A year ago, when Jamison hit unrestricted free agency following the expiration of a four-year, $50MM contract, his top priority was contending for a championship. At the time, his decision to sign a minimum-salary deal with the Lakers looked like a good way to pursue that title, but the season clearly didn't work out how Jamison or the team planned.
Before he signed in Los Angeles, Jamison was courted by a number of teams, including his hometown Bobcats, who were reportedly willing to offer more money and perhaps more years than the Lakers. Charlotte didn't show the same type of interest in Jamison this time around, but after a frustrating year in L.A., the 37-year-old will no doubt keep last summer's free agency in mind. That may be why he hasn't rushed into a situation that looks great on paper, preferring instead to take his time to figure out the best possible fit.
It's possible that best fit could come with L.A.'s other team, but the Clippers have reportedly told Jamison that they're waiting on Lamar Odom, who is the club's preferred choice. In any case, the Clips would only be able to offer Jamison the veteran's minimum, and it's not clear if he'll have to settle for that amount again. Although Jamison's production took a significant hit last year, that dip can be attributed in part to a non-optimal role with the Lakers. The former fourth overall pick still posted solid offensive numbers, including 9.4 PPG, a .464 FG%, and a 15.3 PER.
As I observed when I recapped how teams have used their mid-level exceptions so far this offseason, plenty of clubs still have money to spend. Contenders like the Thunder, Rockets, Grizzlies, Heat, Pacers, and Pistons could all offer Jamison more than the minimum salary, and a few of those clubs may be in need of some frontcourt depth. If Jamison is willing to play for the minimum again if it means competing for a championship, that opens up a few more doors, including the Clippers.
Jamison has suggested that he wants to play two more seasons before retiring, but he's probably unlikely to land a guaranteed two-year deal this summer. If he signs a minimum-salary contract, perhaps it could include a second-year player option, whereas a deal larger than the minimum could potentially include a non-guaranteed second-year (essentially a team option).
Still, I think the most likely scenario for Jamison is that he signs for the minimum with a contender like the Clippers or the Thunder. He's never been a particularly strong defender, but the UNC product can still contribute enough on offense that he could be a good value for a playoff team in need of one more scoring option off the bench.