Life on bench isn’t sitting well with Antawn Jamison
Pau Gasol has grumbled about getting more touches, Kobe Bryant exploded at a practice, Dwight Howard had words with Bryant and Steve Nash at different games, and Coach Mike D’Antoni had a confrontation with a Times reporter.
So why not add Antawn Jamison to the column of agitated Lakers?
Jamison had seen just about everything in his NBA career but “not this,” he said in a quiet moment Friday night after sitting out a fifth consecutive game via the dreaded DNP-Coach’s Decision.
“Fifteen years,” the Lakers forward told The Times, recapping his career. “My only thing is let me know why. I don’t think you go from starting and 30-something minutes to not in the rotation whatsoever. And not explaining to me what exactly happened, that’s the toughest thing. There’s nothing you can do but be positive and support your teammates. The only reason I came here was they said I was going to play and to win a championship.”
Jamison was signed by the Lakers in July for the veteran’s minimum of $1.4 million for a one-year contract.
He seemed to find his game shortly after Mike Brown was replaced by D’Antoni, scoring 33 points against Denver on Nov. 30 and then averaging 12.3 over the next four games.
His playing time and production dwindled steadily from there, bringing him to where he was now — next to rookie Robert Sacre at the end of the Lakers’ bench.
Earlier Friday, D’Antoni said Jamison would “probably” get back into the rotation.
“Everybody gets another chance and stuff,” he said. “We’re playing nine guys and I’m really liking Metta [World Peace]. We don’t want to lose Antawn because he does what he does. We’ll see. Antawn’s ready to roll if we need him.”
It was assumed his stats would drop after he averaged 17.2 points last season for the hapless Cleveland Cavaliers. It wasn’t assumed he would sit on the bench several games in a row.
“There’s a competitor in me that wants to compete and I know I can help the team,” Jamison said. “Whenever I get answers, I guess I’ll feel . . . better about the situation, but nothing has been told to me why nothing has happened or that I did anything wrong.
“DNPs for the first time in my career. I have not had a conversation with [D’Antoni] about anything about the situation.”
Jamison is averaging 7.2 points for the Lakers in 25 games, five of which he started.
Sure, why not add more problems to the Lakers’ ever-present list?
The NBA inaccurately said that Howard had only three flagrant-foul “points,” but in reality he has four, moving him that much closer to an automatic suspension.
If a player reaches six flagrant-foul points, he is automatically suspended for a game. Howard picked up two points after belting Denver’s Kenneth Faried on Wednesday. He was hit with a flagrant foul 2, which carried an automatic ejection, and was fined $35,000 a day later by the NBA.
The NBA assigns two points to a player for the more severe flagrant foul and one for a less harsh flagrant.
Howard was hit with flagrant foul 1 penalties in the season opener against Dallas and a few weeks later against Sacramento, one of which was incorrectly omitted on an official NBA website, though a league spokesman confirmed Howard indeed had four flagrant-foul points now.
Howard vowed Friday he would be more accountable for his actions, including an increased tolerance for foul calls that didn’t go his way.
Times correspondent Eric Pincus contributed to this report.
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