Shoulder Injury Sidelines Wizards' Jamison

The Wizards' Antawn Jamison suffered a partial dislocation of his right shoulder on Wednesday.
The Wizards' Antawn Jamison suffered a partial dislocation of his right shoulder on Wednesday. (By Mark Duncan -- Associated Press)
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By Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 16, 2009

As Antawn Jamison walked out of Quicken Loans Arena on Wednesday night, he looked down at the navy blue protective sleeve that secured his right arm and joked about how well it complemented his powder blue sweater and jeans.

"It's almost like I planned it, huh," said Jamison, showing a sense of humor only two hours after suffering an injury that left his arm numb and caused a momentary loss of sensation in his fingers.

An MRI exam on Thursday revealed that Jamison has a subluxation of his right shoulder -- which implies a partial dislocation -- and it will sideline him for at least the rest of the preseason. In a statement from the team, Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced that Jamison would be reevaluated next week after the swelling subsides.

Jamison's shoulder popped out after he attempted to foul Cleveland Cavaliers reserve center Zydrunas Ilgauskas on a layup attempt with 4 minutes 33 seconds remaining in the first quarter of the Wizards' 109-104 preseason win. He will be unavailable for the Wizards' preseason games in Atlanta (Monday), Philadelphia (Tuesday) and Chicago (Oct. 23). His status for the regular season opener on Oct. 27 in Dallas remains in doubt. When asked if the injury would require surgery, two league sources said, "No."

Jamison, a two-time all-star, led the Wizards in scoring in each of the past two seasons and is one of just two players in the NBA to average at least 19.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in each of the past five seasons (former league MVP Dirk Nowitzki is the other). Last season, Jamison averaged 22.2 points -- his highest scoring average since joining the Wizards in the summer of 2004 -- and finished fourth in the league in minutes played with 3,096.

He was averaging 18.8 points and 8.5 rebounds through the first four preseason games but had just two points at the time of his injury on Wednesday. His arm fell limp after the collision with Ilgauskas. He immediately rushed to the locker room with his arm hanging awkwardly.

"I won't say it popped out, but it did some moving. I didn't hear anything pop. I just knew when it happened it was something serious," Jamison said after the game. "It scared me a little bit. It scared me because I didn't have any feeling. I knew something was wrong.

"Once I got back on the [training] table, it calmed down a bit."

Brendan Haywood and Caron Butler checked on Jamison in the locker room, with Butler jokingly questioning Jamison for committing a hard foul on Ilgauskas. "I said, 'Come on dude. It's preseason. Don't foul him like that. Just grab him,' " Butler said.

The Wizards are coming off an injury-riddled 19-63 campaign in which they spent most of the season without three-time all-star Gilbert Arenas and Haywood. Those players have returned in decent health, although Haywood recently went down with a mild ankle sprain. But losing Jamison for a significant amount of time would be a blow to a franchise that has battled serious injuries the past few seasons. It was attempting to become a contender in the Eastern Conference with the addition of Coach Flip Saunders and an offseason trade for veterans Mike Miller and Randy Foye.

Jamison, 33, has been a durable players throughout his career, missing more than 14 games only once in his first 11 seasons. He has played at least 79 games seven times and suited up for 81 games last season, when only one player -- Nick Young -- played every game.

Jamison had surgery to remove bone spurs in his right ankle in May. Fully recovered, Jamison has been expressing his belief that this Wizards team has a legitimate chance of winning a championship. "If we stay healthy," Jamison said two weeks before training camp, "I think we can compete with the upper echelon of the NBA."

Without Jamison, Saunders said the Wizards would start forward Andray Blatche, who had 16 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists against Cleveland. He has been averaging 12.2 points and 7.6 rebounds this preseason, but the Wizards are already depleted up front without Haywood.

Fabricio Oberto, 34, provides the only backup forward who is older than 24 but he is limited offensively and has been filling in for Haywood at center. The 6-foot-9 Dominic McGuire started 57 games last season as an out-of-position shooting guard, and may also see time at power forward. After the game, Jamison was perhaps too optimistic when he talked about possibly returning by next Tuesday.

"I'm always a quick healer," said Jamison, who has had scares in the preseason before. He sprained his right knee in the preseason opener against the Dallas Mavericks last season and returned in a few weeks.

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