INDEPENDENCE — The Cavaliers didn’t get Amar’e, but they got Antawn — and in a perfect scenario it will end up costing them just a first-round draft pick.
The much-hyped deal for Phoenix big man Amar’e Stoudemire never came to fruition, but Cavaliers general manager Danny Ferry found a way to get talented Washington power forward Antawn Jamison on Wednesday night by also involving the Los Angeles Clippers in the deal.
“Antawn is a great pro,” Ferry said in a statement. “We are very excited to have an experienced, All-Star player of Antawn’s caliber and character join us. He has the ability to add a special, unique dimension to our team with a strong inside presence and the ability to stretch teams defensively while impacting the entire court.
“We think he matches the culture we have built and continue to build and will fit well with our group on the court and off.”
Not only did Ferry get the Jamison deal done prior to today’s 3 p.m. deadline, he did it without dealing promising second-year power forward J.J. Hickson, whose name had been mentioned in virtually every trade rumor involving the Cavaliers.
In exchange for Jamison, who was averaging 20.5 points and 8.8 rebounds for Washington this season, Cleveland sent center Zydrunas Ilgauskas and its first-round pick in 2010, which will likely be No. 30 overall, to the Wizards.
Washington, however, is loaded at center and will likely buy out the remainder of Ilgauskas’ expiring contract, which would allow him to re-sign with the Cavaliers after the mandatory 30-day waiting period.
Ilgauskas did not talk to the media following practice earlier in the day, so it is not known how he feels about being traded, but he’s always been a professional who understands how the NBA works.
Earlier this season, however, Ilgauskas was extremely hurt and upset when coach Mike Brown did not play him — for the first time in his career when he was healthy — on the night he was slated to break Ferry’s franchise record for games played.
“ ‘Z’ has been a cornerstone part of this franchise and his (No. 11) jersey will hang in the rafters here someday, not only because of his play, but because of the tremendous person he is and what he has meant to the franchise and the community,” said Ferry, who by rule was not allowed to talk to Washington about buying out Ilgauskas.
“He has represented the Cavaliers, Cleveland and the NBA at a consistently high level for many years. We wish ‘Z’ and his family the best.”
As part of the deal, Cleveland will also receive injured point guard Sebastian Telfair (groin) from the Clippers.
In addition to Ilgauskas and Cleveland’s first-round pick, Washington, which is totally remaking its roster in an attempt to create salary cap room, got big man Al Thornton from the Clippers and the rights to small forward Emir Preldzic from the Cavaliers.
Preldzic’s rights were originally acquired by the Cavaliers on draft night last year after he was selected by Phoenix with the No. 57 pick.
The Clippers received Drew Gooden, who was just acquired by Washington from Dallas over the weekend.
The 33-year-old Jamison, who is owed $28.3 million over 2010-11 and 2011-12, was at the Verizon Center warming up for a game against Minnesota when he was informed of the deal.
Jamison left the arena without speaking to reporters – Gooden was a passenger in his car when they departed – but it’s no secret he was unhappy in Washington and longed to play for a title contender.
It is not known if the 12th-year pro will be in uniform tonight when the Cavaliers host the Denver Nuggets.
The 6-foot-9, 235-pound Jamison is widely considered a pro’s pro. He’s also regarded as a great locker room presence and teammate.
Not only that, the University of North Carolina product is the “stretch four” the Cavaliers have long lacked.
While a prolific scorer, Jamison has always been able to do that without dominating the basketball. He is capable of stepping out and hitting 3-pointers (.345 this season, .347 for his career), but he’s also able to quickly put the ball on the floor and get to the hole.
In Cleveland, he should be the perfect complement to the all-around game of LeBron James while also being able to spread the floor for 7-1, 325-pound center Shaquille O’Neal.
Nothing is certain, but Jamison, who won the NBA’s Sixth Man Award in 2003-04 while with Dallas, may come off the bench with the Cavaliers, the thought being he’ll be capable of providing instant offense.
With Ilgauskas gone for at least 30 days, Anderson Varejao will have to play more center in relief of O’Neal, which will allow Brown to continue to use Hickson at power forward.
If Ilgauskas rejoins the Cavaliers, Jamison may ultimately move into the starting lineup because it will be hard for Brown to get all his big men enough playing time. Under that scenario, Hickson’s minutes would likely be greatly reduced.
Exactly how all that will shake out remains to be seen – Cleveland is also on the verge of activating power forward Leon Powe – but the Cavaliers are elated to get Jamison and still keep Hickson.
Though there are some concerns about his age, Jamison’s game is very similar to that of Orlando’s Rashard Lewis, who created numerous matchup problems for the Cavaliers last season in the Eastern Conference finals.
Jamison’s numbers will likely go down with the talent-heavy Cavaliers, but he’s actually a better inside player and rebounder than Lewis.
Exactly what will become of Stoudemire is uncertain. Miami was trying to put together a package for the 6-10, 249-pounder before today’s deadline, but it now appears the Suns might keep the five-time All-Star and risk losing him through free agency at the end of the season.
Contact Rick Noland at email@example.com.