Damian Jones

Warriors Rumors: Jones, Cousins, Green, Livingston

The Warriors provided a handful of injury updates on their big men today, starting with the official announcement that Damian Jones has undergone pectoral surgery. While Jones will be able to start rehabbing in six weeks, he’s likely to be sidelined for five or six months, head coach Steve Kerr said today (Twitter link via Nick Friedell of ESPN.com). That could put him on track to return during the postseason.

Meanwhile, DeMarcus Cousins is expected to head to Santa Cruz sometime this month to practice with the Warriors’ G League affiliate, according to Kerr (Twitter link via Connor Letourneau of The San Francisco Chronicle). Cousins could even play in a couple games for the Santa Cruz Warriors before making his debut for Golden State, which is expected to happen after Christmas.

In the short term, Draymond Green went through shootaround and is pushing to play for the Warriors tonight against Milwaukee, per Kerr (Twitter link via Friedell). While they’ll see how he looks in warmups before making a decision, it sounds like the Dubs will continue playing it safe with Green, who is coming back from a toe injury. He’ll likely sit out at least one more game.

Here’s more on the Warriors:

  • Kerr said today that the Warriors won’t use their open roster spot to add anyone for now, since they want to see how the club looks when healthy – Cousins included – before making any decisions (Twitter link via Anthony Slater of The Athletic).
  • Veteran guard Shaun Livingston isn’t sure exactly when he’ll call it a career, but tells Spencer Davies of Basketball Insiders that his retirement probably isn’t too far down the road. “I mean, honestly who knows?” Livingston said. “A year, couple years? But I mean, it’s coming sooner than later. Handwriting is on the wall.” Andre Iguodala recently expressed a similar sentiment on his own career, though he’s nearly two years older than his longtime teammate.
  • In a conversation with Sam Amick of The Athletic, David West admitted that he has second-guessed his decision to retire once. It happened when he was watching Draymond Green and Kevin Durant have their shouting match at the end of that infamous game against the Clippers last month — West felt that his presence in that moment would have prevented the incident from escalating.
  • Speaking of the Green/Durant dynamic, Warriors general manager Bob Myers weighed in on that subject during a radio appearance on 95.7 The Game, as Drew Shiller of NBC Sports Bay Area relays. “I really think it’s behind us. I really do,” Myers said of the friction between the two All-Stars. “You have to flush it out, you have to get it all out there — get all your emotions out. There’s a healing part of it — you don’t get over it in 30 seconds — but you do get over it. And I honestly think they have.”

Damian Jones Undergoes Pectoral Surgery

Warriors center Damian Jones, who suffered a torn left pectoral muscle last weekend, has undergone surgery to repair the injury, the club announced today in a press release.

When Jones was first diagnosed, the Warriors indicated that he would be out indefinitely. There’s still no specific timetable for his return, but the team provided a little more clarity today, announcing that the 23-year-old will be able to begin his rehabilitation process in about six weeks. Golden State will have a better sense at that point of whether Jones will be able to get back on the court before the end of the season.

If Jones is ruled out for 2018/19, the Warriors could apply for a disabled player exception, but it wouldn’t do much for them, given Jones’ modest $1,544,951 salary. If granted, a DPE allows a club to sign a replacement player for 50% of the injured player’s salary, assuming that amount is below the value of the mid-level exception.

Jones, a first-round pick in 2016, earned starting duties at center for the Warriors this season, averaging 5.4 PPG and 3.1 RPG in 24 games (17.1 MPG) before he went down.

While the Warriors have an open spot on their 15-man roster and could make a move to add depth in their frontcourt, they’ve seemed content to let Kevon Looney and Jordan Bell handle the five for now. Draymond Green is expected to return to the lineup next week and can play center in some smaller lineups, as can Jonas Jerebko.

Of course, the Warriors are also preparing for one of the NBA’s very best centers to make his debut for the team within the next several weeks. DeMarcus Cousins, who signed with Golden State in the offseason, is reportedly targeting a post-Christmas return.

Pacific Rumors: Booker, Warriors, Jones, Joerger

Suns star guard Devin Booker will take a cautious approach after re-aggravating a hamstring injury against the Lakers on Sunday, Gina Mizell of The Athletic tweets. There’s no timetable for Booker’s return, Mizell adds. Booker, who missed the team’s previous game against Orlando, departed after 17 minutes. He is averaging 23.5 PPG and 6.7 APG. Booker has been starting at the point and rookie Elie Okobo could pick up some of Booker’s minutes.

We have more from around the Pacific Division:

  • The Warriors dealt with a meningitis scare last March, Sam Amick of The Athletic reports. An outside vendor who handled the team’s food on a daily basis contracted a contagious form of the disease. Extensive precautionary measures were taken to ensure the meningitis didn’t spread to the team, Amick continues. A majority of the Warriors’ players and some members of the basketball operations staff took vaccination shots and a team practice was relocated to Oracle Arena while the team’s practice facility in downtown Oakland was sanitized, Amick adds. The health scare appears to be what David West was referring to when he made cryptic comments in the spring about the private challenges the team had dealt with.
  • With Damian Jones likely out for the season, the Warriors are evaluating whether to make a roster move, as Anthony Slater of The Athletic details. Jones tore a pectoral muscle in Detroit on Saturday. Willie Reed, currently posting big numbers in the G League, could be a candidate. Robin Lopez and Enes Kanter could be options if they’re bought out after the trade deadline, Slater opines. But the Dubs have Marcus Derrickson on a two-way deal and DeMarcus Cousins should return soon from his Achilles injury, so they may elect to stand pat, Slater adds.
  • The issues between Kings coach Dave Joerger and assistant GM Brandon Williams is par for the course in a dysfunctional organization, Jason Jones of The Athletic notes. Details of Joerger’s increasingly uncomfortable situation became public last week. With the perception of a divided front office, it wouldn’t be a shock if Joerger seeks another coaching job, Jones adds.

Warriors’ Damian Jones Suffers Torn Pectoral Muscle

Warriors center Damian Jones is out indefinitely after suffering a torn left pectoral muscle, the team announced on Sunday.

He sustained the injury Saturday night against the Pistons and will likely miss the rest of the season after surgery, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Jones, 23, underwent an MRI in Detroit after the game that revealed the injury. He’ll visit a specialist in the coming days to determine whether he can return during the postseason or offseason.

Jones has averaged 5.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 17.1 minutes in 24 games with Golden State this season, starting in 22 contests. The Warriors drafted him with the No. 30 pick in 2016 after he spent three seasons at Vanderbilt.

In the wake of Jones’ injury, Golden State will likely bring up two-way forward Marcus Derrickson and could explore the free agent market for big men, according to The Athletic’s Anthony Slater (Twitter link).

“We’ll check on our options, see what we want to do,” coach Steve Kerr said, according to Slater.

The Warriors are 15-9 through their first 24 games and now have two healthy centers on the active roster. New acquisition DeMarcus Cousins continues to rehab from Achilles surgery and is expected to return at some point this season.

Warriors Notes: Centers, Curry, Green, Iguodala

Tyson Chandler‘s statement that he considered signing with the Warriors before joining the Lakers is a sign that Golden State is having second thoughts about its current group of centers, writes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Steven Adams dominated the Warriors on Wednesday with 20 points and 11 rebounds in Oklahoma City’s 28-point win, elevating concerns that Damian Jones, Kevon Looney and Jordan Bell aren’t doing enough in the middle.

The organization made the decision to go with younger centers this summer, letting JaVale McGee, Zaza Pachulia and David West all leave. However, after a few weeks Golden State was already reaching out to a veteran like Chandler to provide more stability.

Jones made his 17th start in 19 games Wednesday, but posted just four points and no rebounds, continuing his season-long struggle. Looney had four points and nine rebounds in 22 minutes, but Slater notes that his offensive limitations make it hard to trust him with a larger role. Bell has fallen out of the rotation and hasn’t played well enough to earn more minutes.

Of course, the Warriors’ problems at center could be solved in a big way once offseason addition DeMarcus Cousins is able to play. But there’s still no timetable for him to return after last season’s Achilles injury, which means center could be a lingering issue for the defending champs.

There’s more Warriors news to pass along:

  • Stephen Curry didn’t appear to be bothered by a groin sprain during shooting drills at Tuesday’s practice, but the Warriors are being careful about bringing back their star guard, Slater relays in the same story. He has already been ruled out for games Friday and Saturday against the Trail Blazers and Kings. Golden State is 2-5 since Curry suffered the injury.
  • Draymond Green, who is sidelined with a sprained toe, may be losing his impact as a vocal leader, Slater adds. Green was caught on camera giving a fiery speech during a first-half timeout, but the reaction of his teammates suggests that it wasn’t inspirational.
  • Andre Iguodala hasn’t been able to provide a scoring boost with Curry and Green sidelined, writes Dieter Kurtenbach of The San Jose Mercury News. Iguodala is averaging just 6.4 PPG since the start of November. Kurtenbach contends he could be filling the roles of playmaker and third scorer, but appears to be coasting through the regular season.

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Jones, Livingston, James

The new-look Lakers are off to a tumultuous start at 3-5 this season, with the team losing three separate games that have gone down to the wire. One of these tough losses came Monday against the Timberwolves, testing the patience of LeBron James and other veterans on the team.

“There’s obviously frustration that comes with it,” coach Luke Walton said at the time, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “I don’t know what the level [of frustration] is, but it’s going to be a tough flight home.

“But like I told our guys, nobody feels sorry for us. It’s up to us to figure it out and start winning some of these close games. And we will. I can promise you that. We will start to win some of these. But right now we’re taking a couple lumps in the meantime.”

Walton has substituted players in and out of the starting lineup, experimenting different groups of players this season. Part of growing as a new team is having the patience and veteran leadership in turbulent times, something the Lakers possess in James.

James willed his team to a victory Wednesday, but offered a simple answer when asked about his patience earlier in the week:

“You probably don’t want to be around when my patience runs out,” James said. “I’m serious.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Exercising the 2019/20 option in Damian Jones‘ contract was an easy decision for the Warriors, Monte Poole of NBC Sports writes. Jones’ $2.3MM salary for next season is a team-friendly deal when considering his level of play at starting center this year.
  • Shaun Livingston underwent an MRI on his foot this week after dealing with soreness, Mark Medina of The Mercury News tweets. The MRI returned clean, and the Warriors plan to be cautious with his injury. Livingston is listed as doubtful for Friday’s game against the Timberwolves.
  • LeBron James needs more support around him for the Lakers to reach their true potential, The Los Angeles Times’ Dan Woike writes. James scored 29 points in a close home win against the Mavericks on Wednesday, knocking down the game-winning free throw. The Lakers have a young nucleus of talent and several veterans around James, who’s seeking his fourth NBA title.

Warriors Pick Up Damian Jones’ 2019/20 Option

1:26pm: The Warriors have officially exercised Jones’ fourth-year option, the team confirmed today in a press release.

10:01am: The Warriors anticipate picking up their fourth-year team option on center Damian Jones, a league source tells Mark Medina of The Bay Area News Group. The team has until Wednesday’s deadline to make the move official.

Exercising Jones’ option would add $2,305,057 in guaranteed money to Golden State’s books for 2019/20. While that’s not a huge cap charge, it will likely be about $700K higher than the cap hit for a veteran’s minimum salary. That difference would increase the projected tax bill for a Warriors team that will be way over the luxury tax threshold if Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson return.

Still, it should be a worthwhile investment for the Warriors, who turned down Kevon Looney‘s rookie scale option a year ago and then watched him outperform his contract during the 2017/18 season. The Dubs were fortunate to retain Looney anyway, but they apparently don’t want to roll the dice again with Jones, who is off to a solid start in 2018/19. In eight games (all starts), the 23-year-old has averaged 6.0 PPG, 2.4 RPG, and 1.4 BPG with a league-high .778 FG%.

We’re tracking all of the 2019/20 rookie scale option decisions right here.

Pacific Notes: J. Williams, Clippers, D. Jones

It has been an eventful month for Johnathan Williams, who participated in camp and the preseason with the Lakers, was waived, re-signed on a two-way contract, and played key minutes in the team’s third game of the season.

After racking up eight points, four rebounds, and three blocked shots in just 14 minutes during his NBA debut vs. San Antonio, the Lakers’ newest big man said he had to keep reminding himself how to handle the situation, as Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times relays. “Stay in the moment,” Williams said. “Just stay in the moment. Just stay locked in during the game. Just always stayed locked in when I’m on the bench.”

The Lakers don’t have a ton of reliable options at the five, so it will be interesting to see if Williams continues to be a part of the club’s rotation going forward — because NBA G League training camps are underway, the 45-day clock on his NBA service time will continue to run as long as he remains with the team.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Clippers head coach Doc Rivers believes he has “up to 11 guys” in his rotation who warrant end-of-game consideration, which is both a blessing and a curse. Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times takes a closer look at Rivers’ efforts to make the most of the club’s impressive depth.
  • After declining Kevon Looney‘s fourth-year rookie scale option last year at this time, the Warriors seem unlikely to go that same route with Damian Jones, says Drew Shiller of NBC Sports Bay Area. According to Shiller, it’s “probably” safe to assume that Golden State will exercise Jones’ $2.3MM team option for 2019/20 by next Wednesday’s deadline.
  • Kings head coach Dave Joerger thinks a stretch four like Nemanja Bjelica is a better fit alongside starting center Willie Cauley-Stein, which is why Marvin Bagley III is coming off the bench, per Jason Jones of The Athletic (Twitter link). However, as Jones writes, Bagley continues to impress the franchise as he carves out a larger role in Sacramento.

Pacific Notes: McCaw, Jackson, Clippers, Jones

The Warriors are still interested in signing Patrick McCaw despite the clear rift between the two sides, with the 22-year-old still away from the team one week into the season.

“We have his rights no matter whether he accepts the contract that we’ve offered or not,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said, according to E.Jay Zarett of Omnisport. “We’ve been in touch with him occasionally, and he’s going through his own thought process.

“He knows where we stand. We’d love to get him here. There’s still a place for him here. He has to just make up his mind which direction he wants to go.”

McCaw appeared in 57 games last season and 71 games the season before with Golden State. He provides reliable depth in the backcourt, and reportedly denied two options to return to the bay: A qualifying offer worth $1.7 million, and a two-year deal worth $5 million.

Here are some other notes from the Pacific Division:

  • Suns forward Josh Jackson has improved his three-point shooting, altering his overall offensive attack as a result, Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic notes. “It feels really good to see the shot go in,” Jackson said. “A lot of times, the defense, they don’t really know if you’ve improved until you prove yourself.”
  • The Clippers are rotating scouts through the Raptors’ games to watch Kawhi Leonard, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. Leonard is set to reach free agency next July and has already been connected to the Clippers.
  • The Mercury News’ Mark Medina detailed in a new post how Damian Jones‘ calm demeanor has helped him stick with the Warriors. “Being calm on the court doesn’t leave me too rattled,” Jones said. “A lot of things are being thrown at me. But by being calm, I don’t let it too much into my head. I’m just chilling.”

Warriors Notes: D. Jones, Evans, Cousins, Jerebko

The Warriors came into camp expecting to make Damian Jones their starting center on opening night, but they were happy he was able to earn the job with his preseason play, writes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Jones was competing with Jordan Bell and Kevon Looney for the starting honor, but has separated himself from the pack.

“I think Damian has probably been one of the best stories in camp,” coach Steve Kerr said. “We were committed to giving him minutes, but we weren’t sure what we’d see.”

Jones’ performance may be enough to convince the team to pick up his $2.3MM option for next season. That decision is due by the end of October, and every dollar is important to the Warriors, who project to be well into the luxury tax again in 2019/20. DeMarcus Cousins is expected to take over as the starting center once he returns from an Achilles injury, but the chances are remote that he’ll return next year, so Golden State has to decide if Jones is the center of the future.

There’s more Warriors news to pass along, all courtesy of Slater:

  • Patrick McCaw‘s holdout gave rookie guard Jacob Evans a chance to earn a rotation spot, but he wasn’t able to impress the coaching staff. Evans didn’t play well in either the summer league or the preseason, prompting Kerr to say, “We’ll throw him out there from time to time.” Evans is fine as a defender, but he shot 6 for 25 during the preseason and missed all 10 of his 3-point attempts.
  • Cousins seems to be making progress in his rehab work, although he and the team haven’t talked much about it. No target date has been set for his return, but coaches allowed him to participate in a two-on-two scrimmage in front of the media at Thursday’s practice.
  • There are concerns that offseason addition Jonas Jerebko might be a repeat of Omri Casspi, who suffered a loss of confidence and became hesitant to shoot as last season wore on. Jerebko, who signed in July after being waived by the Jazz, had a difficult preseason and started passing up shots. Slater suggests that the start of the season might provide a welcome “mental reset” for the veteran shooter.