Cavs eye Jamison as deadline nears
The Cavs have talked to the Wizards about a trade for Antawn Jamison
The Wizards would get payroll relief if they traded the two-time All-Star
The Blazers are interested in Bobcats forward Gerald Wallace
With Amar'e Stoudemire unlikely to be dealt before Thursday's trading deadline, the next-biggest thing is being attempted by the Cleveland Cavaliers -- a surprise move at acquiring two-time All-Star forward Antawn Jamison from the Washington Wizards.
A deal for Jamison is far from being completed, according to league sources who described the Wizards as reluctant to move a team leader. The sources considered the proposal a sign that the Cavaliers have become more aggressive in trying to improve at the deadline for a title push this spring.
The Cavaliers have talked to the Wizards about offering Wally Szczerbiak's expiring $13.8 million salary as payroll relief for the 32-year-old Jamison, who is on the books for $50 million through 2011-12. Jamison is averaging 21.4 points and 9.1 rebounds this season, and he would be a lethal scoring threat off the bench for Cleveland in an anticipated conference final against the defending champion Boston Celtics.
A move like this -- a championship contender adding a scorer and rebounder without touching the top seven players in its rotation -- would be the closest thing to a blockbuster in this year's trading-deadline market. Jamison would put enormous pressure on the Celtics, whose front line has already been challenged by the departures of James Posey and P.J. Brown.
"If Cleveland can get Jamison, that will be a home run,'' said an Eastern Conference executive with knowledge of the talks. "Jamison would give them a big boost -- he can finish games with them, and he's a slasher who will get more open shots playing with LeBron. I think that would clinch [the NBA Finals] for them. Boston would have a tough time with them.''
To bring the salaries within 125 percent of each other, Cleveland would have to take on one or more additional players in exchange for Szczerbiak's expiring $13.8 million -- an expensive proposition for the Cavaliers, who would already be paying the luxury tax on Jamison's salary next season.
By clearing salary, the Wizards would position themselves to relaunch next season around their high lottery pick in this draft in addition to a healthy (or so they hope) Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler, who are both younger than 29. But in the midst of a 11-42 season, the Wizards appear disinclined to move Jamison, upon whom they are counting to lead them back into the playoffs next season.
Other talks that emerged Tuesday included interest from the Portland Trail Blazers in acquiring small forward Gerald Wallace from the Charlotte Bobcats. The Blazers would package the expiring $12.7 million salary of Raef LaFrentz, and a third team could be involved. Mark this as another sign that the Blazers are investigating all opportunities.
Also, there has been renewed interest around the league in acquiring Richard Jefferson from the Milwaukee Bucks, who may be forced to unload salary to avoid the luxury tax. Several teams have shown interest, though the Trail Blazers appear to have dropped out of the bidding.