Fifth Pick: Antawn Jamison Plus Cap Space

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

With the fifth pick in the 2004 draft, the Washington Wizards essentially selected Antawn Jamison. This is the second draft for Jamison, who was earlier selected as the fourth overall pick of the 1998 draft. The actual draft pick was Devin Harris, but the Wizards moved Harris, Jerry Stackhouse, and Christian Laettner to Dallas for Antawn Jamison and cash. Jamison reunites with former Golden State Warrior Gilbert Arenas.

Washington is Jamison's fourth team though he never played for Toronto, being traded immediately to Golden State in exchange for the draft rights to Vince Carter. After five solid, near All-Star seasons at Golden State, Jamison was traded to Dallas and became their sparkplug off the bench, earning Sixth Man of the Year honors last year.

He becomes Washington's most expensive player at nearly $13 million per year, eclipsing even Gilbert Arenas. He adds rebounding, scoring, passing, and, most important of all, character and a deep understanding of the game. He will likely soon be head coach Eddie Jordan's favorite player.

Jamison is a huge acquisition for the Wizards but more importantly are the contracts they shed of Stackhouse and Laettner. Rumblings about the two had been swirling for months and with their departure, a new era opens up in Washington. Jamison is going to be a great breath of fresh air for this team.

With their second round pick, the Wizards made an excellent choice in drafting 7-3 Puerto Rican center Peter John Ramos, who had been projected to go as high as 16th overall to the Utah Jazz in some mocks. Ernie Grunfeld may have struck second round gold once again. His past successful second round picks include Flip Murray and Michael Redd


Greg Sandoval ofThe Washington Postwrites: Jamison provides the Wizards with sorely needed offensive punch but is not a great defender. He can play power forward, which could allow the Wizards to move Kwame Brown to the center position, something Washington Coach Eddie Jordan is considering, a source said... Washington is hoping some of Jamison's habit of unselfish play rubs off on some of the team's younger players. That none of the Wizards' younger players was included in the trade may be a sign that Grunfeld isn't ready to abandon the youth movement that was initiated by Wes Unseld. Players such as Brown, 22, Brendan Haywood, 24, and Jared Jeffries, 23, continued to struggle last season but also showed improvement.

Greg Sandoval ofThe Washington Postwrites: Having traded away their first-round pick as part of a package to obtain the Dallas Mavericks' Antawn Jamison, the Washington Wizards could afford to choose a young but promising player with their second-round selection. The Wizards believe they did just that by selecting Peter John Ramos with the 32nd pick. Ramos, a 7-foot-3, 275-pound center, averaged 20.5 points and 9.5 rebounds while playing professionally in Puerto Rico last season... Grunfeld has had success drafting in the second round.When he was general manager of the Milwaukee Bucks he plucked Ronald Murray out of obscure Shaw University in North Carolina with the 42nd overall pick in the 2002 draft. The Bucks traded Murray as part of the deal to obtain Gary Payton and Desmond Mason. Since then, Murray has become one of the SuperSonics' top reserves. Grunfeld also selected Ohio State guard Michael Redd with the 43rd pick in the 2000 draft. Redd averaged 21.7 points and five rebounds last season and earned a spot in the 2004 All-Star Game.

John N. Mitchell ofThe Washington Timeswrites: The addition of Jamison should make the Wizards a much more athletic and versatile team next season as they begin play in the new Southeast Division with Orlando, Miami, Atlanta and expansion Charlotte. If Washington doesn't make any more moves, expect Gilbert Arenas and Larry Hughes to start in the backcourt; Jamison and Kwame Brown at forward and Brendan Haywood at center."Antawn is a good fit in any type of offense because he is so efficient at scoring the basketball," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "He's very good at running the break. He's very athletic. When he touches the ball it goes to his hands to the basket about as quick as anybody in the league probably since Bernard King."

John N. Mitchell ofThe Washington Timesalso writes: The Wizards went for height in the second round when they drafted 7-3 center Peter John Ramos.Last season Ramos, just 19, averaged 20.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and blocked 2.4 shots while playing for Criollos de Caguas (Puerto Rico).

Tom Knott ofThe Washington Timeswrites: The Wizards unloaded a malcontent, an apostle and a question mark to acquire Antawn Jamison.The exchange carries a hint of promise in Tony Cheng's neighborhood, if only because of the shedding of the negatives. Jerry Stackhouse was unhappy to a fault and unresponsive to the directives of Ernie Grunfeld and Eddie Jordan... Laettner hit the age-induced area of diminishing returns last season soon after being identified as a member of the Cheech & Chong health plan. He came to move at two speeds, slow and slower, and limited himself to one dunk a season.