Dwight Howard injury: Antawn Jamison says he’s ready to fill void

The countdown before Lakers training camp remains a little more than a week away.

The countdown before Dwight Howard returns to the court remains another story. The Lakers have already announced the Lakers center will miss at least the Lakers’ preseason opener Oct. 7 against Golden State as he rehabs from back surgery. His workouts beginning last week with the Lakers training staff included core stabilization, upper and lower body strength, light running and shooting. He’s not expected to participate in training camp beginning Oct. 2. And in his introductory news conference last month, Howard acknowledged he may miss the season opener Oct. 30 against the Dallas Mavericks if it means ensuring his back becomes fully healthy.

Sports Illustrated’s Sam Amick reported it’s likely Jordan Hill will start at power forward, while Pau Gasol slides at center. But the Lakers’ key reserve in Antawn Jamison will likely have an increased role too. For his part, the 37-year-old power forward maintains he’s ready.


“That’s something I knew coming in that there would be times I’m playing significant amount of minutes or times I’d have a certain role coming off the bench,” said Jamison, who’s played both as a starter and reserve in his 14-year career. “Fortunately for me, I’ve been in just about every scenario you can imagine. Whether it’s starting for a couple games, keeping my role in coming off the bench ... I will come in and help out this team as much as possible. Whatever is asked of me to do, I’ll do it.”

The Lakers are already counting on Jamison to boost a bench that finished last season last in the NBA in total offense (20.5 points per game), 20th in shooting percentage (21.8%) and 28th in efficiency (27.2). Meanwhile, Jamison believes he’s averaged a stellar 19.5 points per game because he’s maximized his longevity through extensive off-season training.

Jamison said he’s stayed active since the Miami Heat dispatched the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games of the 2012 NBA Finals. During that time, Jamison said he’s gone through daily yoga exercises to enhance his conditioning and flexibility. He’s worked with his physical therapist on strengthening his glute and quadriceps muscles as well as his hamstrings to minimize his defensive weaknesses.

“I’m an old man now,” Jamison said. “The off-season for me is how I get better. It’s how I stay in shape. It’s how I prevent injuries. This off-season has been more mental, especially with knowing I was coming here. I’m being focused, paying attention to detail and making sure I’m doing the proper steps to ensure my body can withstand 82 games and a long playoff series.”

Still, Jamison said he has a long way to go.

When he’s played in informal workouts at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo, Jamison said he and various assistant coaches notice his shooting form has been inconsistent.

“All of my misses, I’m leaning forward and aiming it instead of just shooting the ball,” Jamison said. “I had a problem with that in the past. I always move left and right. But that’s one of the things I’ve been trying to correct this off-season by going straight up.”

Nonetheless, Jamison said he’ll immediately correct those issues. After all, his large responsibility leading the Lakers’ bench only increased with the strong possibility Howard will sit on the sidelines in the coming weeks.

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