INDEPENDENCE: As the losses mount and the years roll by, Antawn Jamison is frustrated by the situation that has now trapped the Cavaliers.
They were within a game of the playoffs around the All-Star break, yet they enter tonight’s home game against the San Antonio Spurs in a free fall. They’ve lost seven in a row and 10 of their past 11 to tumble 8› games behind the New York Knicks for the final playoff spot in the East.
In less than a week, three teams have passed them in the standings, leaving the Cavs with the fifth-worst record in the NBA. They soon could be passed by the Toronto Raptors as well. All of that is well and good for a fan base interested only in another high pick, but for a veteran running out of time, it has been a crushing blow.
“I want to win,” Jamison said. “Tomorrow is not promised. I might not be here next year. I can’t worry about what we’re planning for next year. For me and a lot of these other guys, what can we do now? It was tough to know we were so close and instead of taking steps forward, we took dramatic steps backward.”
Jamison disagreed with the trade that sent Ramon Sessions to the Los Angeles Lakers for a draft pick. Sessions was a huge piece to the Cavs’ success and they’ve dropped eight of nine without him. Recent injuries to both Daniel Gibson and Kyrie Irving have complicated the situation, leaving the Cavs relying heavily on guards Donald Sloan and Lester Hudson.
Sloan was signed out of the Development League a couple of weeks ago and Hudson was in the D-League just a few days ago.
“I wouldn’t say I was OK with it,” Jamison said, referring to the Sessions trade. “He’s a guy who was a veteran, we played well together and he’s a big piece to the puzzle. Granted, we didn’t foresee Gibson getting hurt and Kyrie missing a couple of games or it would’ve been a different story. That’s part of the business. You have to deal with it, you have to move forward.”
Through this current losing skid, coach Byron Scott has implored the players to stick together, to lean on each other and to keep fighting. That starts with Jamison, who has been the clear leader in the locker room through last season’s miserable 26-game losing streak and again through the struggles of this season.
“The thing I know about the guys we have in the locker room is these guys are very resilient, they’re not going to quit,” Scott said. “We’ve been through this before and it’s been worse. For us to think that we’re just going to stop playing and get ready for the draft is ludicrous. I don’t think anyone in that locker room will do that.”
Jamison is mired in a horrendous shooting slump, shooting just 31 percent (19-of-62) in his past five games. He injured his leg last week in a loss to the Phoenix Suns and hasn’t shot well since, but insisted Monday he’s healthy and actually feels terrific given the condensed schedule. The shots simply aren’t falling.
He is in the final year of his contract and wouldn’t commit to returning next season or leaving, saying that’s a decision for after the season. But he was quick to agree that he has endured two difficult seasons in Cleveland and it would be a surprise if he was on the team next season.
Jamison told the Charlotte Observer earlier this season he’d be interested in signing with the Bobcats so he could finish his career at home and be closer to his growing sons.
“I appreciate the things this organization has done for me,” Jamison said Monday. “I’ve been through a lot of coaches, by far this has been my favorite coaching staff to play with and to learn things from. But to sit here and say I can see myself coming back or there’s a chance of me coming back right now, that’s one of those decisions you really have to clear your mind, let the batteries get re-juiced. It’s going to be [made] collectively with the family and myself and what I really want to do.”
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.