I’m hearing from sources close to both parties that a deal between the Wizards and Antawn Jamison will be completed very quickly after midnight. It looks like Wizards brass will reward Jamison for his 21.4-point, 10.2-rebound All-Star season with a four-year deal worth roughly $11 million a season.
That figure is down from the $16.4 million Jamison earned in the final year of his max deal that he signed with Golden State six years ago, but it’s still rather handsome for a 32-year-old veteran.
The NBA’s free agency negotiating period begins at midnight, and a flurry of action is expected right about 12:01 a.m. In the past, Wizards management has been sitting by the phone waiting for the clock to strike. If Jamison and Wizards team president Ernie Grunfeld agree to the deal — which can’t be signed until July 9 — then the Wizards can turn their focus to the signing of Gilbert Arenas.
Arenas is seeking a max deal, and my sources are saying the Wizards realize it’s important to present a handsome offer to Agent Zero right off the bat for a number of reasons.
1. He’s flying to China at 9 a.m. Tuesday morning and won’t be back for two weeks. If they can’t come to an agreement in the early hours of Tuesday morning, the Wizards will have to wait until Arenas comes back.
2. Arenas is a quirky dude and could change his mind on a whim and go in a different direction if something rubs him the wrong way. He has already proven himself to be a cut-throat negotiator when signing his latest shoe deal. Arenas once recounted the story to me. He wanted $5 million a year, Adidas wanted to give him $3 million. Arenas said, “Fine, I’ll go the @%!$# home with my $2.5, wait for the deal to run out and go somewhere else.” Adidas’ representatives watched Arenas walk and once the deal ran out, he started to talking to other shoe companies until Adidas came back at him with the figure he wanted.
Arenas had said he wanted to see Jamison taken care of first, and if this deal goes down like it sounds like it will, Agent Zero will have his wish.
A source very close with Arenas said the guard hasn’t scheduled visits with other teams and won’t do so until every possible scenario with the Wizards has been ruled out. He wants to be here, but wants to get his way too.
Having an agreement with Jamison could go a long way in assuring Arenas that the Wizards do want to win as bad as he does.
Stay tuned …