Antawn Jamison arrived in Cleveland Tuesday night and worked out with his teammates today, giving the Cavs 10 of 16 players under contract already in camp, which is expected to officially open on Friday. Jamison's left pinkie finger is permanently crooked (think St. Louis arch), courtesy of season-ending surgery in March that inserted nine screws and two plates, but Jamison is mentally preparing himself for both the grueling season ahead and his role as mentor to a very young roster.
Jamison will make $15 million this season in the final year of his deal, making his expiring contract appealing to teams looking to clear cap space. But Jamison believes he'll last the season in Cleveland.
"If I didn't go anywhere last year, I'm not going anywhere this year," Jamison said. "My value now is even greater than it was last year with Tristan and Samardo being here. These guys can learn a lot from me."
Jamison and Baron Davis will be the veteran voices, a role Jamison held last year as well. He grumbled last season when he was benched in favor of J.J. Hickson and hinted today he regrets how he handled that situation. He was never given an explanation why he was benched, which led to part of his frustration, but said today it made him tougher mentally and he's ready to handle whatever role Byron Scott has for him.
"I’ll come out and play hard and do whatever they ask of me," Jamison said. "Last year was a tough time. The coaching staff and me have a better understanding. I was disappointed with myself how I handled the beginning of the season. I love the organization. I’m getting used to calling this home. Let’s see what happens. I’m here. I’ll work hard. I’ll continue to believe I’ll be here. I’m getting geared up for the season."
Jamison is a candidate to be waived under the amnesty clause, but he would seem to be a distant second option behind Davis (if the Cavs even use it at all).
On other topics, Jamison said:
* He'll tell the youngsters to get their rest on the road this season. He was a rookie during the last lockout and remembers how exhausted he was by the end of the season.
"The coaching staff here is going to do a great job of not killing you, but you as an individual have to monitor what you do off the court," Jamison said. "Normally you get to a certain city, you might want to go out and stay up late. You can ill-afford to do that because this is difficult."
* He was shocked by the trade of J.J. Hickson, but likes what he saw today out of Omri Casspi.
"I like what he brings to this team, the toughness," Jamison said. "He brings a certain dimension, being able to shoot it and put it on the floor and a certain toughness that we didn't have last season."
* Cavs players spoke last season about gathering at Jamison's house in North Carolina or perhaps joining Davis on the West Coast during the lockout, but that never occurred. Jamison said part of the reason for that was guys had better options to stay in shape than they did during the first lockout.
"Guys weren't as lost as they were in the last lockout trying to find some good competition," Jamison said. "It wasn't as difficult trying to get quality play as it was back then. (Getting together as a team) wasn't really a major need."