By Gene Wang
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 28, 2010; D05
Following another disheartening loss on Tuesday night, 115-103 to the NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers at Verizon Center, Washington Wizards forward Antawn Jamison answered every question about the team's failings with his usual candor.
He cited the opponent's aptitude, a poor second quarter and an overall shortage of intensity as principal factors in the Wizards' fourth straight defeat, but not once did he mention his contributions, which included a game-high 27 points and a team-high nine rebounds.
That professionalism and dependability have made Jamison an attractive candidate for other teams with genuine aspirations of winning an NBA title this season. Thus the trade speculation regarding Jamison, and to a lesser extent teammate Caron Butler, is inescapable.
"I'm not going anywhere until they let my agent know," Jamison said. "I got a pretty good relationship with [the Wizards' front office], and all things pointing forward is being here until my contract is over with, so that's my mind-frame."
Jamison, 33, signed a four-year extension in June 2008 reportedly worth $50 million after his most productive season (21.4 points per game, 10.2 rebounds per game) in the NBA. This season Jamison is averaging 21.9 points and 8.7 rebounds.
"I've been playing for a while, and I know how rumors get started, trade rumors, this and that nature," Jamison said, "but those guys have been looking at me in my face, and pretty much everything is staying put."
Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld addressed the media on Wednesday after the league announced the suspensions of Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton for the rest of the season, and while he did not comment specifically on the futures of Jamison or Butler, he did indicate this latest development could affect his decisions before the Feb. 18 trade deadline.
"The team will tell us what we need to do," Grunfeld said. "Obviously not having your top scorer makes you look at things a bit different."
Published reports suggest the Cleveland Cavaliers are a potential suitor for Jamison and that the asking price is Zydrunas Ilgauskas, J.J. Hickson and a first-round pick.
Playing for the Cavaliers, who reached the Eastern Conference finals last season, would increase Jamison's odds of winning his first NBA championship. Jamison is in his 12th NBA season, his sixth with the Wizards, and has advanced past the first round just once in five postseason appearances.
"That's the only thing I think about is winning a title," Jamison said. "That's the reason why I'm still playing. That's the reason why I'm still going hard. It's the only thing that drives me and pushes me, so it's the only thing left I have to accomplish, and I'm going to continue to do that."
Butler, 29, also has grown accustomed to trade talk in recent weeks. One report has the two-time all-star, along with other players whose contracts are set to expire after the season, possibly going to Houston in exchange for Tracy McGrady. Butler is averaging 16.8 points and 6.7 rebounds per game this season, down from his past two seasons, during which he averaged 20.8 and 20.3 points and was an all-star each time.
"It's something that you really, really have no control over," Butler said of his status with Washington. "Me personally, I wish it would be clearer sooner than later because I do think it affects a team to a certain extent."
Asked if he thought he would be with the Wizards the rest of the season, Butler, whose contract is set to expire in 2011, replied: "You never know."