- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 19, 2009

Despite hearing his name in trade reports and speculations during the last month - and at an increasing frequency in the last few days - Washington Wizardsforward Antawn Jamison said Wednesday he has no concerns over changing addresses by Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline.

With the 12-42 Wizards in the running for the top pick in the NBA Draft and at the same time held hostage by owner Abe Pollin’s mandate that Washington not exceed the league’s luxury tax spending limit to make additional moves, parting with Jamison wouldn’t be considered an illogical move.

By freeing themselves of Jamison’s annual salary of roughly $11 million over the next three years, the Wizards could position themselves for a roster makeover.

And for opposing teams, adding a two-time All-Star who averages 21.5 points and 9.1 rebounds could morph a championship contender into a title front-runner.

But Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld has said despite Washington’s injury-induced struggles this season, the organization will retain Jamison and co-captain Caron Butler, for whom they also have rejected a high number of offers.

So despite the latest report, which had the Cleveland Cavaliers making a strong push to acquire Jamison, he remained unfazed and committed to helping the Wizards rebound, even if it means passing up a chance to contend for a title.

Jamison is convinced that if Washington can get all of its pieces - mainly franchise player Gilbert Arenas and center Brendan Haywood - back, the Wizards themselves will contend next season.

“I signed a contract, and it was for four years. I don’t think about where I could have been or where I might land,” Jamison said. “The reason why I signed here is to see what we can do with Gilbert and Brendan healthy. If I didn’t think that this team had the opportunity to be successful, I wouldn’t have signed.

“This is home for me,” Jamison added. “I love the area, the fans, the city and my teammates. I thought we could get it done with a healthy team. Hopefully what the future brings is a lot of healthy guys and we can continue to play healthy and play the type of basketball that we know we’re capable of playing.”

Wizards interim coach Ed Tapscott reiterated the team’s commitment to Butler and Jamison after Tuesday’s win over Minnesota.

“Names will always come up in trades, and you can’t always control what names are brought up,” Tapscott said. “But let me ask you something. If you’re one of the other 29 teams and you’re calling the Wizards, who would you ask about? You’d ask about Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler. So we can’t be in charge of who people ask for. All we can be in charge of is saying yes or no, and as far as I know, the answer is no. The plan is to get our health, and when we get all of those guys back, Antawn Jamison will be an important part of that core.”

Jamison said he never worried the Wizards would send him elsewhere, but after many years in the league, no rumor surprises him.

“I haven’t heard anything, so if I haven’t heard anything, I’m not going nowhere. If my agent calls me or Mr. Pollin and - we know how well he thinks of me - if I didn’t get a call from him when this first started talking or whatever,” the 2004 sixth man of the year said. “I’ve been sleeping just as well as I’ve been sleeping the last couple of - well, I haven’t been sleeping that well the last couple of months [because of the losing]. But as far as me leaving, it’s just rumors. I’ve been in the league now 11 years, and I’ve heard it all. I know the procedure as far as anything with any kind of legs running.

“I’m having fun even though it’s tough this year, and I’d like to see us healthy. But this is home. I just bought a new house. I don’t plan on going anywhere. I’m a Wizard until the next three years, and after that, I might join you guys in the media.”

-Butler injured his left hip in Tuesday’s win and experienced some soreness Wednesday morning. He was held out of practice, but there is no concern about his availability for Friday’s game at New Jersey. Tapscott said if the Wizards played Thursday night, Butler would have practiced, but since the team had a two-day break, the decision was made to allow Butler a day off.

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