Antawn Jamison is joining up with Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash to chase a championship with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Jamison will sign a one-year deal with the Lakers, a source with direct knowledge of the decision told the Associated Press on Wednesday.
The 36-year-old forward will sign for the veteran’s minimum salary, to bolster the Lakers’ woeful bench with scoring and veteran leadership while pursuing the first championship ring in a career largely spent as the best player on bad teams.
He won’t have that problem with the Lakers, who will have Bryant and newcomer Nash in their backcourt flanked by two elite 7-footers — although their identities will depend on whether Los Angeles’ apparent efforts to land Dwight Howard are successful. Jamison also will be reunited with coach Mike Brown, who was in charge of the Cavaliers when Jamison was traded to Cleveland during the 2009-10 season.
Jamison had several suitors for his services, including his hometown Charlotte Bobcats, the Brooklyn Nets and the Golden State Warriors, his employer for his first five NBA seasons. To a player who has never advanced past the second round of the playoffs in 14 NBA seasons, the Lakers’ chance to contend apparently was too enticing to Jamison.
The Lakers are the fifth NBA team for Jamison, who averaged 17.2 points and 6.3 rebounds for an awful Cavs team last season, despite shooting a career-low 40.3 percent. He averages an impressive 19.5 points per game for his career, never scoring fewer than 14.8 points per game since his rookie season with Golden State in 1999.
Jamison could be a huge upgrade to the Lakers’ bench, which repeatedly struggled to hold leads last season when the starters sat down. Matt Barnes was the Lakers’ top-scoring reserve with just 7.8 points per game.
Blazers retain Batum
The Portland Trail Blazers weren’t bluffing about Nicolas Batum after all.
The Blazers matched Minnesota’s four-year offer sheet worth more than $45 million for the restricted free agent on Wednesday, keeping the 23-year-old swingman in Portland just like General Manager Neil Olshey said they would all along.
Batum left the French national team, which is preparing for the Olympics, to fly to Portland on Wednesday and take a physical before the deal was matched. Putting pen to paper brought an end to a long and occasionally bitter negotiation between the Blazers and the Timberwolves, who were convinced Batum was the missing piece in a young core that already has Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio.
Raptors add 7-footer
The Toronto Raptors have signed Lithuanian 7-footer Jonas Valanciunas, the fifth overall pick of the 2011 draft.
Valanciunas received a two-year deal, with two team option years. The Raptors had to wait to bring him to the NBA because he had a $2.5 million buyout with his club team in Lithuania. He averaged 14.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.9 blocks and 23.5 minutes in 23 games last season with Lietuvos Rytas.
Celtics sign Terry
The Boston Celtics signed free-agent guard Jason Terry.
The deal was reported earlier this month during a signing moratorium, then held up while the Celtics tried to work out a sign-and-trade agreement with the Dallas Mavericks. Instead, Boston will use its midlevel exemption to sign the 2009 NBA Sixth Man of the Year. Terry is seen as a replacement for Ray Allen.