Wizards trade Jamison to Cavs in 3-team deal

February 18, 2010|By Michael Lee | The Washington Post

WASHINGTON — — As the Washington Wizards took the court to face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday, Antawn Jamison had already ditched his uniform and was headed to his silver Bentley, carrying a duffel bag and leaving behind a season filled with misery.

The Wizards traded Jamison to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a three-team deal completed Wednesday night. The Wizards will receive 7-foot-3 center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, the rights to Slovenian forward Emir Preldzic and a first-round pick from Cleveland, as well as forward Al Thornton from the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers will get Drew Gooden from the Wizards and send point guard Sebastian Telfair to the Cavs.

"Antawn Jamison has been the embodiment of leadership on and off the court for this franchise for 5 1/2 seasons and we thank him for all he has done for the Wizards and the city of Washington," said team president Ernie Grunfeld. "Unfortunately, our oncourt results have not met our expectations and we felt it was necessary to make changes to improve our future and our financial flexibility. This trade accomplished both of those objectives."

Jamison, a team captain, was a favorite of late owner Abe Pollin and Grunfeld. Grunfeld said the acquisition of Jamison - a pre-draft deal with Dallas in 2004 - was the best deal he had ever made. Jamison's tenure with the Wizards included four playoff appearances and two All-Star selections.

Jamison led the Wizards in scoring the past three seasons, averaging 21.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, and was the last player remaining from the Wizards team that defeated Chicago in a first-round playoff series in 2005. On Saturday, the Wizards shipped Brendan Haywood, the Wizards' longest-tenured player, to Dallas along with two-time All-Star Caron Butler and DeShawn Stevenson. Gilbert Arenas, who missed most of the past two seasons with a knee injury, is serving a season-ending suspension for bringing guns into the locker room during a dispute with teammate Javaris Crittenton in December.

"There's disappointment," coach Flip Saunders said about moving Jamison. "He's one of the most professional guys I've ever been around. It's unfortunate the way the season took a turn with injuries. We could never get any traction. The thing with Gil really tainted everything."

As Jamison left Verizon Center, he was asked to give a message to Wizards fans. "I love them more than they love me," Jamison said.

Gooden, a 6-foot-10 forward, arrived in Washington in the seven-player trade with Dallas, which also brought to town Josh Howard, Quinton Ross and James Singleton. But Gooden made it known before his arrival that he had no interest in playing for the Wizards. Washington used him as the piece needed to complete the deal with Cleveland.

The trade also closed the chapter on the "Big Three" era in Washington, with a team built around three players who became All-Stars in Arenas, Butler and Jamison. The trio never won a playoff series in three-plus seasons together, losing each time to the Cavaliers.

Jamison, 33, signed a four-year, $50 million extension with the Wizards in the summer of 2008, expecting the team would contend for a title. But Arenas and Haywood missed nearly all of last season with injuries and the team stumbled to a disappointing 19-win campaign.

Thornton, who went two spots ahead of Nick Young in the 2007 NBA draft, has averaged 13.7 points per game over his career and 10.7 points this season for the Clippers. The draft pick from Cleveland will likely be a late selection, but it is expected to assist with the franchise's rebuilding process.

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