Shortly before he arrived in Dallas for a season that—unlike his previous five with the Warriors—should include a playoff appearance, Antawn Jamison had a dream about his new teammates. Steve Nash, steaming downcourt with the ball, had Jamison on one wing, Michael Finley on the other and Dirk Nowitzki trailing. Jamison was coy about revealing the finish of that fast break (who tells every detail of a dream?) but hinted that the denouement had something to do with a ring.
That heady reverie took place even before the Mavericks' stunning acquisition of Antoine Walker in a trade with the Celtics on Monday, a deal that gives Dallas a ridiculously potent frontcourt. Who defers to whom on their way to the hoop will have to be worked out, but the player most likely to show deference is Jamison. Though he's a 20.2-points-a-game career scorer, he can't seem to shake a reputation for disappearing at crunch time (contrary to gutty guard Nick Van Exel, whom the Mavs gave up to get him). Jamison believes such criticism had a lot to do with his playing on a losing team. "I am not one of those guys trying to get rid of the ball with two minutes left in the game," he says.
Even if he were, Jamison won't be pressed into taking over in the clutch—not with Finley, Nash and Nowitzki getting so much big-game experience last year in Dallas's run to the conference final. As for the revamped frontcourt, Jamison, Nowitzki and Walker can score by posting up or shooting from outside, and the Mavericks can always use another rebounder like Jamison, who has averaged 7.5 rebounds in his career.
Nonetheless, the Mavs will need some breaks just to crack the top four in the loaded West. And a championship? That's still somebody's dream for now.