Southwest Notes: H. Jones, Kemba, Mavs, Spurs

Pelicans forward Herb Jones is a bargain on his current contract, which pays him $1.79MM this season. But he’ll be looking at an eight-figure annual salary worth “at the very least” the mid-level exception and “almost certainly above it” on his next deal if he continues on his current path, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst predicted in his most recent Hoop Collective podcast.

Windhorst’s comments stemmed from a discussion of a feature by Marc J. Spears of Andscape on the second-year Pelicans forward. As Spears details in his story, Jones prefers to live modestly and think “long-term” for his family — he still drives his car from college and wears Pelicans gear rather than spending extravagantly on a new wardrobe.

“If he wants to drive a Dodge Charger and keep wearing the team-issued gear, that’s fine, but he will have tens of millions in the bank doing so,” Windhorst said with a laugh.

Jones, who told Spears that he aspires to be named to the NBA’s All-Defensive team, is under contract for one more season after this one, with a minimum-salary team option for 2023/24. He’ll become extension-eligible during the 2023 offseason and would be a restricted free agent in 2024 if he hasn’t signed a new deal by then.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • New Mavericks point guard Kemba Walker said during Tuesday’s TNT broadcast that he aims to bring ball-handling skills and leadership to the franchise, describing himself as a “good locker room guy” (Twitter link via Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News). On Wednesday, Walker told reporters, including Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News, that he hopes to play for the Mavs “sooner rather than later,” adding that he feels “really good” physically. “I feel as good as I’ve felt in a very long time,” Walker said. “I really took my time and made sure I felt better before I really started ramping myself up as well. Yeah, I know I can just say that, but I guess we’ll just have to see for real.”
  • Head coach Jason Kidd said that using the team’s 15th roster spot on players with non-guaranteed salaries will give the Mavericks the flexibility to keep auditioning free agents until they find one they want to commit to. “Some could say we didn’t give (Facundo) Campazzo a fair shot,” Kidd said, per Eddie Sefko of “He didn’t play a lot of minutes. But this is the way we want to use this 15th spot – look at different situations or different guys. Hopefully, Kemba is the guy if Luka (Doncic) or Spencer (Dinwiddie) are out that he can play that role as a backup.”
  • Point guard Tre Jones and several of his young Spurs teammates aren’t accustomed to losing as much as they have so far this season and don’t want to get used to it, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. “A lot of us come from the background of winning — that’s why we are here,” Jones said. “We talk about it in the locker room. We talk about it every single day, trying to figure out how we can turn this thing around and start stacking some wins again.”
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