Antawn Jamison perplexed by reduced role; vows to stay positive

There’s very few things Antawn Jamison hasn’t seen in his 15-year NBA career.

He played on the Washington Wizards for four seasons, including the 2009-10 campaign when Gilbert Arenas brought firearms to the locker room. Jamison was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers later that season where he witnessed LeBron James’ hasty departure. This year, Jamison experienced the firing of Mike Brown only five games into the Lakers’ season.

In the Lakers’ 101-100 victory Tuesday over the Charlotte Bobcats, Jamison went through one thing for the first time in his career. He didn’t play.

“I’ve never had this,” Jamison said in a quiet moment with this newspaper. “I’m going home and going to pray. I’m doing something I love to do. You just have to find the positives in life. We won.”

Jamison’s demotion coincided with Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni overseeing a number of moving parts. Pau Gasol returned to the starting lineup after missing the past eight games because of knee tendinitis. Lakers forward Metta World Peace has assumed the backup power forward spot. It’s possible Jodie Meeks will start at shooting guard, while Kobe Bryant slides over to the small forward position. Meanwhile, Jordan Hill also sat on the bench with Jamison.

“Nothing they did to deserve it,” D’Antoni said. “I’m just trying to figure out the best way to play the team.”

Jamison, who has averaged 7.2 points on 43.9 percent shooting through 25 games, initially had an elevated role under D’Antoni. He started for five games during Gasol’s eight-game absence because of knee tendinitis. Jamison had a season-high 33 points in the Lakers’ 122-103 win Nov. 30 against the Denver Nuggets. He had also posted double digits in five other games.

Those performances became fleeting.

D’Antoni started Hill last week in the Lakers’ loss against Cleveland, hoping his energy would spark the team’s lack of consistent athleticism and defense. But he went scoreless. World Peace then started the next four games, while Devin Ebanks took the starting small forward spot. During the Lakers’ four-game trip last week, Jamison scored a combined 12 points on four of 15 shooting. He also went scoreless in the last two games he played. Of course, the Lakers have remained concerned with Jamison’s defensive deficiencies.

“I’m here to win a championship,” Jamison said. “If me not being out there improves our chances, then you have to roll with it. Of course I’m not excited about it. I want to compete. I know if I’m out there, I can contribute. But what else can you do?”

Jamison then answered his own question.

“You just have to stay positive,” Jamison said. “It’s difficult. You never know. Next week, there might be 37 minutes again. You just have to stay positive and have to ride this ship until we find out what are we going to do. Right now, we’re all confused by what’s going on.”

Jamison then suggested the constant rotation changes has only contributed to that confusion.

“In order for us to be successful, we have to establish an identity,” Jamison said. “Of course injuries play a part. But we have to establish a bench. We have to know what we’re going to do with our starters. We have yet to do that. It’s kind of hard to get into a rhythm when you don’t know what’s going on. Your guess is as good as mine.”


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Metta World Peace fine with playing power forward off bench

Pau Gasol balks at sitting out late in Lakers-Bobcats game

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