Damian Jones

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.

Warriors Notes: Durant, Jerebko, McCaw, Jones

Warriors owner Joe Lacob is preparing for a recruiting effort next summer to convince Kevin Durant to sign a multi-year contract with the team, he said in an appearance on The TK Show Podcast with Tim Kawakami. Durant will be a free agent once again after signing a one-year deal. Golden State will have Durant’s full Bird rights and will offer a five-year max contract to keep him in a Warriors uniform.

“He deserves to be able to go and be happy wherever he wants to be,” Lacob said. “I hope it’s here. And I hope he feels the same that way I do, and we do, about him when it comes time next summer. But you never can predict these things. We just will do our job and he’ll do his job, and we’ll see what happens next summer. And let the chips fall where they may.”

Durant’s preference for shorter, less expensive contracts has helped the Warriors in other ways, writes Drew Shiller of NBC Sports. Durant passed up a max deal in 2017 with a starting salary of $34.7MM. He signed for $25MM instead, which enabled the team to keep Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston. Lacob said a similar decision this summer made it easier for the Warriors to use their mid-level exception to add DeMarcus Cousins.

There’s more Warriors news to pass along:

  • Jonas Jerebko is the latest shooter being brought in to give Golden State more firepower off the bench, Monte Poole of NBC Sports writes in a player profile. The Warriors need the kind of production Jerebko supplied last season with the Jazz, when he shot .414 behind the arc.
  • With just five days until the opening of camp, the Warriors still aren’t sure if Patrick McCaw will re-sign, notes Anthony Slater of the Athletic. The shooting guard can accept a $1.7MM qualifying offer at any time, but he has been waiting all summer for a better opportunity. If McCaw remains unsigned when camp opens, Slater offers some other alternatives such as Nick Young, who was with the Warriors last year, Jamal Crawford, Arron Afflalo and Corey Brewer. They may also decide to let Danuel House, Kendrick Nunn and Alfonzo McKinnie compete for McCaw’s spot in camp.
  • Dietary changes are part of the effort Damian Jones is making to win the starting center’s job heading into opening night, relays Mark Medina of The San Jose Mercury News. Jones has sworn off sweets and other junk food as he sees an opportunity to join the starting lineup for the two-time defending champs, at least until Cousins is ready to play around mid-season. “I’ve been ready for it. I’ve been practicing for a while,” Jones said. “I know what role I’ll take on. I get the big picture. They’ve been telling me all summer what they need me to do.”

Warriors Notes: McCaw, Livingston, Durant, Kerr

Patrick McCaw will probably accept the Warriors’ qualifying offer before training camp opens, writes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. A restricted free agent, McCaw has been waiting all summer for a team to offer more than Golden State’s QO of $1.7MM.

A disappointing second season contributed to McCaw’s current situation. His 2-point and 3-point shooting percentages both declined, and his scoring and rebounding numbers didn’t improve, even with a slight increase in playing time. Still, McCaw will likely remain in the rotation if he returns to Golden State, which may not be guaranteed if he signs elsewhere.

Both parties have leverage in the standoff, Slater notes. The Warriors can match any offer that McCaw receives, while he and his representatives know that the team can only offer minimum deals to potential replacements. With 13 players under contract, Golden State plans to give the 14th roster spot to McCaw while keeping the final one open.

Slater passes along more Warriors info in his mailbag column:

  • Golden State will have to make a decision on Shaun Livingston‘s partially guaranteed contract for 2019/20 by June 30, and the team’s choice may reflect how negotiations are going in other areas. Livingston has a $2MM guarantee on his $7,692,308 deal and could be a welcome source of savings for a team that’s already well over the cap with Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant both heading toward free agency and Draymond Green eligible for an extension. Livingston will turn 33 next week and it could be an easy decision if his game declines this season.
  • Damian Jones is the best bet to start at center when the season begins. Jordan Bell is the most talented candidate and will probably inherit the job once DeMarcus Cousins leaves in free agency, while Kevon Looney‘s reliable defense puts him in the discussion. Slater expects Jones to win the job unless he has an awful preseason, with Bell eventually taking over until Cousins is healthy enough to return in January or February.
  • Durant hasn’t made any decisions about his future, but he may be looking for a long-term deal next summer. The Warriors will have his full Bird Rights for the first time since he joined the organization and he may want security at age 31, whether that means a five-year contract with Golden State or a four-year deal elsewhere.
  • Coach Steve Kerr was able to make it through last season without major health issues, but the pain resulting from his back surgery hasn’t gone away. Kerr had to take two leaves of absences in the wake of the operation, but his recent contract extension is a sign that the issue is under control.

Western Notes: James, Batum, Katsikaris, Jones

LeBron James seriously considered joining the Sixers and Rockets before signing with the Lakers. In an extensive interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols that was relayed by Dave McMenamin, James addressed a variety of topics, including which teams he considered during free agency.

“I definitely thought long and hard about the possibilities of lining up alongside Ben [Simmons] and [Joel] Embiid or lining up aside [James] Harden and Chris [Paul],” he told Nichols.

The Sixers had the salary-cap space to sign James but the Rockets would have likely required a sign-and-trade with the Cavaliers to acquire his services. James also insisted he doesn’t see next season as a rebuilding year for the Lakers.

“We have an opportunity to do something that a lot of people don’t think we can do, and we love the notion of it’s another rebuilding year and we don’t have enough. So that will motivate the guys that we have anyways.”

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • The Rockets are actively seeking a defensive-minded player on the trade market and are willing to take on a long-term contract, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN in comments relayed by digital journalist Ben DuBose. Houston would presumably move forward Ryan Anderson, who has two years and $41.7MM left on his deal. The Hornets’ Nicolas Batum would be a logical target, as Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype notes. Batum has three years and $76.7MM remaining on his contract, which includes a player option in the final year.
  • The Jazz have hired Fotis Katsikaris as an assistant to Quin Snyder, the team announced in a press release. Katsikaris becomes the first-ever native Greek NBA assistant coach. He was a head coach in Spain last season and served as head coach of the Greek national team from 2014-16.
  • The Warriors are unlikely to pick up center Damian Jones‘ fourth-year option, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Golden State must make a decision on the $2.3MM option prior to the start of the season. If it’s declined, Jones will be an unrestricted free agent next summer.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 3/25/18

Here are Sunday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Rockets have recalled center Zhou Qi from the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets. The 7’1” center has made 14 brief appearances with the Rockets this season. He’s averaging 11.0 PPG, 6.3 RPG and 2.3 BPG in G League play.
  • The Raptors recalled forward Nigel Hayes from their Raptors 905 affiliate, the team’s media relations staff tweets. Hayes has appeared in 43 G League games this season, averaging 15.0 PPG and 6.1 RPG. He’s also made two cameo appearances for Toronto, which signed him to a second 10-day contract on March 16th.
  • The Timberwolves recalled rookie center Justin Patton from their Iowa affiliate, according to Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The 7-footer averaged 12.7 PPG, 5.4 RPG and 1.4 BPG for the Iowa Wolves, who did not qualify for the G League playoffs. Patton has yet to make his NBA debut.
  • The Warriors recalled Damian Jones from the Santa Cruz Warriors, the team announced in a press release. The center has averaged 15.0 points and 8.1 boards in 44 games with the affiliate. Also, two-way forward Chris Boucher has also been recalled from Santa Cruz. He appeared in one game with the Warrior.
  • The Suns recalled veteran big man Alan Williams from their G League affiliate, the Northern Arizona Suns, as part of his rehab process in returning from a torn right meniscus, per an official press release.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 3/21/18

Here are Wednesday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Magic recalled 10-day contract recipient Rodney Purvis to their G League affiliate, the Lakeland Magic, per an official tweet from the team. Purvis, 24, has averaged 20.6 PPG, 4.0 RPG, and 3.6 APG in 37 G League games this season.
  • Lakers rookie big man Thomas Bryant has been recalled from the South Bay Lakers, the team announced today. Bryant, 20, has averaged 19.4 PPG, 7.6 RPG, and 2.1 APG in 34 G League games this season.
  • The Warriors have assigned Damian Jones to the Santa Cruz Warriors, tweets Mark Medina of The Mercury News. The center has averaged 15.0 points and 8.0 boards in 43 games with the affiliate. Also, two-way forward Chris Boucher has also been assigned to Santa Cruz. He appeared in one game with the Warriors.