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Antawn Jamison excited to join Wizards broadcasts: 'It's a special moment for me'

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Antawn Jamison excited to join Wizards broadcasts: 'It's a special moment for me'

When Ernie Grunfled traded Antawn Jamison to the Cavaliers during the 2009-10 season, many Wizards fans assumed that would be the end of the Jamison era in D.C. A great player and crowd favorite during his run in Washington, the former North Carolina star was part of the Washington franchise's best success since the 1970s, and Jamison built a special bond with the city and its fans over six seasons.

And in a flash, Jamison was gone.

He would play five more seasons - three in Cleveland and then one each with the Lakers and Clippers - but Jamison's time with the Wizards was both delightful and volatile, a wild time for basketball and wild off-court stories. The good news, now, is that Jamison will be back with the Wizards as part of CSN's broadcast coverage of the team. 

"Every time I get the opportunity to come back to D.C. I’m always excited," Jamison said of his new role. "It’s a special moment for me."

MORE WIZARDS: JOHN WALL NOT SHY DURING TEAM SLUMP 

Jamison will work on CSN's Wizards broadcast team in a number of roles, both as a studio analyst in Wizards Pregame Live and Postgame Live working next to Frank Hanrahan, Tony Massenburg and Ron Thompson as well as working on the game coverage with Chris Miller and the legendary pairing of Steve Buckhantz and Phil Chenier for some games. His debut will come Tuesday night as the Wizards take on LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

It's remarkable to think that some of Jamison's most memorable games came in the playoffs against James and Cleveland, and in a way, opening his Wizards television career with a game against LeBron seems full circle. Jamison talked about those games, and the Wizards dashed title hopes, especially in the years when teamed with Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler Washington had one of the best teams in the East.

"I remember I had a picture of the Larry O’Brien trophy in my locker because deep down in my heart I knew that we had the talent to do something special," Jamison said of those teams.

Stories of the downfall of those Wizards teams are now over-told, the demise of Agent Zero from both injury and off-court decisions. Jamison wonders if he could have done more in those days, even though he never found himself in trouble, but as a teammate, captain, and friend.

"As you get older you always say to yourself, ‘If I would have paid more attention to this or got to that person and talked to him.’ At the time it felt like you were doing enough, I was the captain, being positive, being the perfect teammate, but it wasn’t enough. If I could go back and just find a way to talk to Gil or whoever it was to try to keep those outside distractions out. I think that was the biggest problem that we had."

The collapse of those playoff Wizards teams into a rebuilding collection of square pegs and round holes was difficult for Jamison.

"I have my fondest memories, and my best moments as a professional athlete, occurred when I was in the D.C. area," he said. "I was upset—like how could something so good turn around 180 so quickly? And, you know, things just kind of exploded."

With time comes perspective, and with Jamison now out of the NBA for two years and away from Washington since 2009, he has been able to watch the current Wizards team grow and sees them as a threat in the East facing similar foes as his Washington squad did some eight years ago.

"You look at the Wizards now and they went through that whole process of getting John Wall with the No. 1 pick, and Bradley Beal," Jamison said, before conceding, "yeah you got the LeBron hurdle."

Though the Wizards are slumping right now, the NBA season is a marathon, not a sprint. Jamison said the Wiz need more bench production and the team is in the hunt to come out of the East.

"I think if the Wizards can stay healthy, and like I said get some more activity from the bench, they can compete with anybody," Jamison said. "There’s not going to be a playoff matchup where you’re going to be like, ‘Well, it can go this way or this way.’ I think it’s all about matchup and most importantly, the team staying healthy and getting their confidence at the right part of the season."

Jamison has the next six months to hopefully talk Wizards basketball, but before his first day working as an analyst, he has some emotions to sort through. Now a father of four kids, Jamison remembers three being born while he was playing with the Wizards, including his 8-year-old son A.J. that was born at Sibley Hospital. He knows the area well - he lived in Friendship Heights and Bethesda as a player - and the opportunity to talk basketball with Buckhantz and Chenier seems to resonate the strongest. 

"I feel like Buck and Phil, after games we would talk basketball and just life and things like that and now to get the opportunity to call a game with them it’s special because I know these guys," he said. "I couldn’t imagine learning from a better team than those two guys because of the history that we do have and, like I said, I remember times we’d be on a plane or on the bus after a game and good times just talking."

It won't all be learning either. The first time Buckhantz catches Jamison putting on makeup for the TV cameras should be interesting.

"You know Buck is a funny guy and most people don’t really see it but I used to just joke about anything with him," Jamison explained. "He’s been doing his own makeup before, about to go on, and I’m like ‘What are you doing makeup for?’ And now I’m the one that’s got to put on makeup."

Don't expect Jamison to intrude on the chemistry that Buckhantz and Chenier have displayed for years, and it will be interesting to get Jamison's perspective Wednesday as the Lakers come to town. That game marks Jamison's first work as an in-game analyst, and will also be the last game of Kobe Bryant in D.C. as the former MVP announced his retirement at the end of the season. Jamison played with Bryant in Los Angeles, and has done TV work as a Lakers studio analyst, providing an intimate knowledge that could provide keen insight.

Jamison knows he will have to learn his spots during the broadcast, including any last-second shots. Asked specifically if he would try to replicate the famous DAGGER call, he laughed and said, "We’ll leave that to Buck."

If there was one point Jamison made again and again about coming back to work on Wizards basketball, it came about the familiarity and comfort of being in D.C. The words seemed so genuine about his excitement to work on Wizards basketball, and it's not like Jamison hasn't had other opportunities, working in L.A. with the Lakers broadcast. But it was clear this seemed a special opportunity.

"There’s just so much history," he said. "You couldn’t script this out at all."

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NBA offseason grades: With Kawhi Leonard, Raptors shined most in Atlantic Division

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NBA offseason grades: With Kawhi Leonard, Raptors shined most in Atlantic Division

Here is a look at how the 2018 NBA offseason went for teams in the Atlantic Division...

Toronto Raptors, B+

2017-18 finish: 59-23, 2nd round of playoffs
In: F Kawhi Leonard, G Danny Green, C Greg Monroe
Out: G DeMar DeRozan, C Jakub Poeltl, C Lucas Nogueira

The Raptors had one of the more consequential offseasons of any NBA team this year. First, they fired Dwane Casey, the 2017-18 NBA Coach of the Year, following a season in which they won 59 games. Then, they pulled off the biggest trade of the summer, a deal that featured two perennial All-NBA players. They let go of DeRozan and brought in Leonard in return. If they hadn't parted with DeRozan and Casey, they may have gotten an A. But it's hard to tell how much better they will be following the deal and Leonard does bring with him some concerns based on his quadriceps injury and the fact he has only one year left on his contract. The Raptors do, however, also get points for re-signing point guard Fred VanVleet.

Boston Celtics, C

2017-18 finish: 55-27, conference finals
In: C Robert Williams, G Brad Wanamaker
Out: C Greg Monroe

One year ago, the Celtics flipped nearly their entire roster and brought in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. This year, they mostly stood pat and didn't add much of anything in free agency or trades. Their biggest acquisition was Williams, who they took 27th overall in the first round of the draft. The Celtics will hope they improve from within. They re-signed Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes, and should get Irving and Hayward back from injuries. They should have plenty of talent to compete for an NBA Finals berth, but as far as this offseason goes, they didn't do much.

Philadelphia 76ers, D+

2017-18 finish: 52-30, 2nd round of playoffs
In: F Wilson Chandler, C Mike Muscala, G Zhaire Smith, G Landry Shamet
Out: G Marco Belinelli, F Ersan Ilyasova

Where do we begin? This summer was about as dramatic and bad as it could get for the Sixers. First, they had to fire their general manager because of a burner Twitter account scandal. Then, they struck out miserably in free agency with LeBron James and Paul George, and in trade talks for Leonard. After that, Smith - their first round pick - hurt his foot. And along the way, Ben Simmons has been dating a Kardashian, flirting with the curse that has claimed many pro athletes before him. Philly did re-sign J.J. Redick and Johnson, and the Chandler trade was nice, but all in all it was an offseason that fell way short of the Sixers' expectations. That said, they can still get way better next season based solely on their young players taking another step.

New York Knicks, B

2017-18 finish: 29-53, missed playoffs
In: F Mario Hezonja, F Kevin Knox, F Noah Vonleh, C Mitchell Robinson
Out: F Michael Beasley, G Jarrett Jack, F Kyle O'Quinn

It's been a while since the Knicks had an offseason to write home about and this one is no exception. There was nothing they did that would flirt with an A-grade. However, the early returns on their draft are excellent. Knox and Robinson were both standouts in the Summer League and offer fans a little bit more hope about the team's future. As long as Kristaps Porzingis can return this season safe and sound from his ACL tear, the Knicks could take a step forward in 2018-19.

Brooklyn Nets, C+

2017-18 finish: 28-54, missed playoffs
In: F Ed Davis, F Kenneth Faried, F Jared Dudley
Out: F Dante Cunningham, G Nik Stauskas, C Jahlil Okafor

The best news about the Nets' offseason is that their trade with the Celtics, the one that stripped them of years of first round picks, is finally over. Next year, the Nets will have a first round pick. This summer, they once again didn't add any major pieces in the draft, but seemed to make some smart moves in free agency. The Davis deal is solid and Faried may benefit from a change of scenery. More baby steps for Brooklyn.

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NBA offseason grades: Wizards, Magic highlight Southeast Division

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USA TODAY Sports

NBA offseason grades: Wizards, Magic highlight Southeast Division

Here is a look at how the 2018 NBA offseason went for teams in the Southeast Division...

Washington Wizards, B+

2017-18 finish: 43-39, 1st round of playoffs
In: C Dwight Howard, G Austin Rivers, G Troy Brown, Jr., F Jeff Green, C Thomas Bryant
Out: C Marcin Gortat, F Mike Scott, G Ty Lawson, G Tim Frazier, G Ramon Sessions, F Chris McCullough

Given the circumstances of their salary cap situation, the Wizards did quite well for themselves this summer. They shook things up by trading Gortat and actually got something solid back for him in Rivers. They then filled Gortat's spot with an eight-time All-Star in Howard and did so at a bargain price, the taxpayer mid-level exception. They also added Green at a nice price and Brown, who acquitted himself nicely in the Summer League. Whether the Wizards made a major leap forward is debatable, but the potential is there for them to re-install themselves as contenders in the East. The possibility things go wrong is also there, but all in all, a strong summer for the Wizards.

Atlanta Hawks, B

2017-18 finish: 24-58, missed playoffs
In: G Jeremy Lin, C Alex Len, G Trae Young, G Vince Carter, G Kevin Huerter, F Justin Anderson, F Omari Spellman
Out: G Dennis Schroeder, C Mike Muscala, C Dewayne Dedmon, G Malcolm Delaney, G Isaiah Tayor

The Hawks did a nice job with the draft by picking up an extra first round pick just to move back two spots (from third to fifth) in their trade with the Mavericks. They added Young with the fifth pick and then got Huerter later on at No. 18. The Len signing at two years and $8.5 million looks like a bargain and they added a nice mix of veteran free agents and young players to develop. It will probably be a few years before the Hawks are back in the playoffs, but they seemed to take a step forward this summer.

Miami Heat, D

2017-18 finish: 44-38, 1st round of playoffs
In: F Duncan Robinson
Out: G Dwyane Wade, G Wayne Ellington, F Luke Babbitt

The Heat had one of the least impactful summers of any team in the NBA. The biggest addition they have so far, and this is true, is Robinson. They didn't make any draft picks and struck out in free agency. What they did do is let go of Wade, Ellington and others. The only way the Heat improve year-over-year is if their young guys like Bam Adebayo or Justise Winslow take a big step forward. 

Charlotte Hornets, C+

2017-18 finish: 36-46, missed playoffs
In: C Bismack Biyombo, F Miles Bridges, G Devonte' Graham
Out: C Dwight Howard, G Michael Carter-Williams, G Treveon Graham

New Hornets GM Mitch Kupchak quickly turned the franchise into a different direction this offseason by trading Howard to the Nets. They then added Biyombo in a deal with the Magic and acquired Bridges through the draft. There isn't a lot to love or hate about the Hornets' offseason, so they fall in the middle of the grading scale. The real question now is what they do with Kemba Walker, who has just one year left on his contract.

Orlando Magic, B+

2017-18 finish: 25-57, missed playoffs
In: C Mohamed Bamba, C Timofey Mozgov, F Justin Jackson, F Jarell Martin, G Jerian Grant
Out: G Mario Hezonja, C Marreese Speights, G Arron Aflalo

The Magic had a strong summer. The re-signed forward Aaron Gordon, a rising young player, and drafted Bamba, who has the tools to become an All-Star and a dominant defensive force. They had some questionable moves, like trading for Mozgov, but the future looks a lot brighter for the Magic than it did just a few months ago.

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