Why Can't Antawn Jamison Find a Place in Mike D'Antoni's Rotation?

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IDecember 29, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 13:  Antawn Jamison #4 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates his basket during the game against the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center on November 13, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  The Spurs would win 84-82.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers' quick-strike offense seems ideally suited for reserve forward Antawn Jamison's ability to fill up the basket, but curiously Jamison has not appeared in a game since the Lakers' Dec. 16 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers. And according to the LA Times, Jamison is not to thrilled about his demotion.

“Fifteen years,” the Lakers forward said, 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.”

There is no hiding the frustration in Jamison's words, and to be honest it seems like he has a fair point.

Jamison is a more accomplished scorer than Jodie Meeks, Darius Morris or Devin Ebanks, yet each of those players have received considerably more playing time than Jamison lately.

Morris has even managed to creep his way into the Lakers' starting lineup since Steve Nash made his return from injury, while Jamison has been relegated to the spot on the bench opposite rookie Robert Sacre.

So far coach Mike D'Antoni has been mostly quiet about Jamison, but it's easy to find a theory based on D'Antoni's brief assessment of the situation after the Lakers' blowout victory over Portland where Jamison was the only Laker not to register a single minute of playing time.

“Everybody gets another chance and stuff,” D'Antoni told the LA Times. “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.”

World Peace has turned in a few memorable performances offensively in a reserve role recently, but if you travel far enough beneath the surface of D'Antoni's statement you would find that the underlying meaning of his words boils down to defense.

Jamison does have the ability to light up the scoreboard, as D'Antoni notes, but he's also a tremendous liabilty on defense, which coincidentally is the team's largest area of concern.

The spurt of points that Jamison is capable of providing means little when the offense is humming along the way it has since Nash returned, especially if the trade-off is an offensive outburst from the player Jamison is tasked with defending.

However, is Jamison's defense really so bad that D'Antoni can't at least find a few minutes for him in the midst of a blowout?

Apparently so since Morris, Ebanks and Meeks have not exactly stood out on the defensive end.

All three players are younger and more athletic than Jamison, and it's possible that D'Antoni prefers their energy to Jamison's experience, but obviously this is not what Jamison signed up for per the Times.

“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 more 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.”

From the outside looking in, it's easy to surmise that defense is the major reason that Jamison can't find his way off the Lakers bench right now, but shouldn't D'Antoni make that clear instead of potentially creating another issue in a season filled with challenges?

It wouldn't hurt D'Antoni to add a little clarity to the situation even if he doesn't feel the Lakers need Jamison's services right now, because maintaining a good relationship could be beneficial in the playoffs where Jamison's talent and experience could truly make a difference.