Derrick Jones

Southwest Notes: D. Jones, Rockets, Spurs, Grizzlies

At 9-4, the Mavericks are among the top teams in the Western Conference, and forward Derrick Jones Jr. has become the surprise player of the year so far, writes The Dallas Morning News’ Brad Townsend.

Known more for his athleticism and defense than his scoring or shooting, Jones is currently averaging a career-high 8.9 points through his first 13 games, which have all been starts. He’s also taking a career-high 3.9 three-point attempts and connecting at a 35.3% clip.

I really don’t care [about outside opinions],” Jones said. “If you want to label me as a dunker and leave me open, then please, by all means, leave me open. I’m gonna keep shooting the shots that I take and I promise you, they’re gonna fall.

According to Townsend, the Mavericks have had their eye on Jones since at least 2019, when they tried to acquire him and Kelly Olynyk in a package deal. Jones wound up joining the Mavericks this offseason on a minimum-salary contract after Portland matched the $33MM offer sheet that Matisse Thybulle signed with Dallas.

While Jones is ultimately making less money this year than he would have on the player option he declined from the Bulls ($2.7MM compared to about $3.3MM), he’s capitalizing on his expanded opportunity with the Mavs. Townsend writes that he may very well hold onto his starting spot if his play keeps up.

I have put in a lot of work behind the scenes,” Jones said. “I feel that thus far in my career, I haven’t gotten the recognition that I think I deserve. And I feel like this year is just going to be the year.

We have more Southwest Division notes:

  • The Rockets suffered a close loss to the Clippers on Friday, showing room for improvement on the defensive end, The Athletic’s Kelly Iko writes. Still, Houston is one of the surprise teams in the Western Conference behind a young core and some former Rockets are impressed. James Harden said Houston has “a good thing going on.” Current Clips forward P.J. Tucker said the young team plays similar to some of his old Rockets teams. “Switching slows down offenses and makes guys have to play iso,” Tucker told The Athletic. “You have guys that can guard multiple positions, obviously a lot of similarities in that. That’s something that if you got weapons at the four and five that can switch, it makes it tough on guys.
  • The Spurs have now lost eight games in a row after allowing a 19-point comeback to Memphis on Saturday. While Cedi Osman said everyone is upset after going through a stretch where they’re 1-6 in games they’ve led by 10 or more points, rookie sensation Victor Wembanyama isn’t worried about it impacting the locker room, according to Tom Orsborn of San Antonio Express-News.We have very healthy locker room, healthy relations between each other and, no, this is not an issue at all,” Wembanyama said. “We are losing. We’re losing together. If someone puts their head down, we go help him. Someone falls on the court, all of us rush to help him up.
  • While dealing with a plethora of injuries, the Grizzlies opted for a new, super-sized starting lineup on Sunday against the Celtics, putting Santi Aldama in over Jacob Gilyard, playing him alongside Jaren Jackson Jr. and Bismack Biyombo in the frontcourt (Twitter link via Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal). Aldama responded with career highs of 28 points and six assists in a two-point loss to the Celtics. Second-year two-way wing Vince Williams got some rotation run and looked impressive on defense, according to Cole (Twitter link). Chris Herrington of the Daily Memphian tweets that Williams should get some extended run in subsequent games.

Stein’s Latest: Bahamas, Gordon, Thompson, Jones, Giannis

The Bahamas just had its most successful international run ever, winning a pre-qualifying tournament — and eliminating Argentina in the process — to have a shot at making next summer’s Olympics if the national team can win another six-team tournament.

FIBA drew some criticism for allowing veteran guard Eric Gordon to compete with the Bahamas, as he previously played for Team USA at the 2010 World Cup. However, as Marc Stein writes at Substack, Gordon does have a legitimate tie to the Bahamas — his mother was born and raised in the island nation, and the U.S. granted him permission to switch allegiances, likely due to his advanced age (he’s 34).

Here’s more from Stein:

  • Stein hears the Bahamian national team isn’t finished recruiting NBA players, with Evan Mobley, Isaiah Mobley and Naz Reid all eligible to represent the country. Stein also wonders if the team will recruit Klay Thompson, whose father, former top overall pick Mychal Thompson, is from the Bahamas.
  • Like Gordon, Klay Thompson would have to become a naturalized citizen in order to compete for the Bahamian team, and only one such slot is available in FIBA events. Thompson has already won a pair of gold medals with Team USA. His father neither confirmed nor denied that his son might attempt to compete for the Bahamas in the future, simply telling Stein, “We’ll see.”
  • Derrick Jones Jr. considered signing with the Heat in free agency, league sources tell Stein. The veteran forward, who played two-plus seasons in Miami, instead signed a one year, minimum-salary deal with the Mavericks.
  • The Lakers and Knicks are among the teams that may intrigue Giannis Antetokounmpo if he were to leave the Bucks in the future, according to Stein. The two-time MVP recently expressed a desire to keep winning championships, wherever that may take him. Antetokounmpo can become a free agent in 2025.

Western Notes: Henderson, Brooks, Jones, Jackson Jr.

The biggest knock against No. 3 overall pick Scoot Henderson entering the draft was his shooting — he made just 27.5% of his 3-point attempts in the G League. His trainer, Brandon Payne, brushes off criticism regarding Henderson’s shot as he heads into his rookie season with the Trail Blazers.

“Scoot can shoot the ball,” Payne told Mark Medina in a Sportskeeda article. “When he feels one go down the right way, you better watch out because there’s a bunch coming behind him. But like with any young player, there’s going to be ups and downs. He will just have to weather those and work through them.”

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • LeBron James shook off Dillon Brooks‘ tactics in the playoff series between the Lakers and Grizzlies. James shot 61.1 percent when guarded by Brooks, yet the new Rockets swingman has a different interpretation of how his matchup with LeBron played out, he told Arash Madani in a Sportsnet interview (hat tip to Kurt Helin of NBC Sports). “I feel like I always had him,” Brooks said. “I feel like that series was thrown upon me cause of the words that I say, but I’ve been saying things all year and we won 50 games.”
  • Derrick Jones‘ guaranteed one-year contract with the Mavericks is worth the veteran’s minimum, Hoops Rumors has confirmed. Jones will earn approximately $2.71MM on the deal, while Dallas takes on a cap hit of $2.02MM.
  • Jaren Jackson Jr. has been manning the middle for Team USA this summer and that may be his future spot with the Grizzlies, Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal writes. Veteran center Steven Adams is signed through the 2024/25 season but Jackson could be his eventual replacement.

Mavericks Notes: Jones, Survey, Doncic Docuseries

The Mavericks added forward Derrick Jones Jr. on a one-year guaranteed contract over the weekend. So what can Dallas expect from Jones?

Jones’ athleticism is well-known, considering he won the All-Star dunk contest in 2020. He’s also a superior shot-blocker who can guard multiple positions, according to Eddie Sefko of

“His versatility on both ends of the floor will allow us to utilize his skill set and athleticism in a variety of different lineups,” Mavs GM Nico Harrison said when the team signed Jones.

We have more on the Mavs:

  • A fan survey conducted by The Athletic’s Tim Cato produced some interesting results. Outside of Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving and Josh Green gained the most votes for “favorite current player.” Among the respondents, 54 percent had a confidence level of 5 (the highest amount) that Doncic and Irving are capable of being the two best players on a title contender. However, the survey revealed little confidence in Jason Kidd’s coaching ability.
  • Doncic is documenting Slovenia’s experience in the FIBA World Cup this summer. He’ll be self-producing and releasing, “Everything It Takes,” a short-form docuseries that will provide an inside look on its journey throughout the tournament, according to BreAnna Bell of
  • Dallas is waiving JaVale McGee and adding Markieff Morris. Get the details here.

Mavericks Sign Derrick Jones Jr.

August 18: Jones is officially a Maverick, the team announced.

We are excited to welcome Derrick to Dallas,” said GM Nico Harrison. “Derrick has always showcased a team-first approach with his ability to adapt his game to complement his teammates. His versatility on both ends of the floor will allow us to utilize his skillset and athleticism in a variety of different lineups.”

August 9: Free agent forward Derrick Jones Jr. has reached an agreement with the Mavericks, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. It’s a one-year deal with a full guarantee, agent Aaron Turner tells Charania.

No other details on the new contract have been released, but Dallas still has $5.4MM of its non-taxpayer mid-level exception remaining, along with its $4.5MM bi-annual exception. Given the lack of information provided by Turner, a veteran’s minimum deal may be more likely.

Jones, 26, became a free agent when he declined his $3.36MM player option with the Bulls in June. He was the last remaining player on the open market who turned down his option for the upcoming season.

Chicago acquired Jones in a three-team trade in 2021 and re-signed him to a two-year, $6.56MM contract last summer that included the option. He appeared in 64 games last season, all off the bench, and averaged 5.0 points and 2.4 rebounds in 14 minutes per night.

Jones may find a greater opportunity with the Mavericks, who have revamped their roster this summer with an emphasis on upgrading their defense.

When Jones’ signing becomes official, he will be team’s 15th standard guaranteed contract. Dallas also has two of its three two-way slots filled, with potential training camp contracts looming for Greg Brown, Joe Wieskamp and Jordan Walker.

Cavaliers Notes: L. Nance Jr., P. Nance, Travers, Roster Opening

In an appearance on the Wine and Gold Talk podcastLarry Nance Jr. said he feels fortunate that his younger brother will get a chance to carry on the family tradition of playing for the Cavaliers. Pete Nance will reportedly be offered an Exhibit 10 contract after being part of the Cavs’ Summer League team. Nance Jr. played several seasons in Cleveland, and his father was a star with the Cavaliers in the 1980s and ’90s.

Nance Jr. was in Las Vegas to watch his Pelicans teammates in action as well as his younger brother, who is trying to earn a spot in the NBA as an undrafted prospect. He believes his brother can succeed at the professional level and offered him some advice on how to deal with his first Summer League.

“We talk all the time,” Nance Jr. said. “Going into Summer League, I think the biggest thing I told him was, he had such momentum, coming off obviously a rough college season, but then the momentum he built going into draft workouts and then being (at the draft combine) in Chicago training for it, just carrying that over into Summer League was great. Just go be aggressive, shoot your shots when you decide you want to shoot them and play your game.”

There’s more on the Cavaliers:

  • Nance also talked about the circumstances that led to him being traded to Portland prior to the 2021/22 season. The team had just drafted Evan Mobley, whom Nance said was obviously headed for stardom, and gave a five-year extension to Jarrett Allen. With Kevin Love also on the roster, Nance didn’t believe he would get regular rotation minutes if he stayed in Cleveland. “It had gone from me really enjoying playing the Larry Nance Jr. thing, in my dad’s footsteps … and at a certain point it became a little redundant. I still loved being in Cleveland, still loved having my family around and loved playing for the Cavs, but I needed to step away from all this and go play on a playoff team and really go show what I’ve got.”
  • The Cavaliers and Luke Travers reached a mutual decision that he will continue to play in Australia, he told Australian media outlet Code Sports (hat tip to Mike Battaglino of Cavaliers Nation). A second-round pick in 2022, Travers was one of the Cavs’ top players in Las Vegas as they won the Summer League title. “The talk is just one more year (in the NBL) and hopefully it’s a good one,” he said. “To be able to come back, it’s what I wanted to do to continue to develop my game in Melbourne and I’m coming here to win. Coming over here, there’s a lot of clarity. They (Cleveland and Melbourne United) have been awesome about it, so getting that (uncertainty) out of the way makes everything else easier.”
  • In a subscriber-only story, Chris Fedor of looks at 10 possible free agent options for the Cavaliers with their open roster spot, including Kelly Oubre, Terrence Ross, Derrick Jones and T.J. Warren.

Just One Player Who Declined 2023/24 Option Remains Unsigned

Leading up to last month’s June 29 deadline, nine of the veterans who held player options for the 2023/24 season decided to turn down those options, forgoing guaranteed money in favor of the open market.

For the vast majority of those nine players, opting out was the right call.

[RELATED: 2023 NBA Free Agent Tracker]

Fred VanVleet, Draymond Green, Khris Middleton, and Kyle Kuzma landed some of the biggest free agent contracts of 2023. While Green and Middleton technically would’ve earned higher salaries in 2023/24 if they’d opted in, they both locked in multiyear contracts that extend well beyond next season, securing overall guarantees worth $100MM and $95MM, respectively.

Donte DiVincenzo and Jevon Carter got big raises for next season and gained long-term security by opting out. DiVincenzo landed a four-year, $47MM deal after declining a $4.7MM option, while Carter passed on a minimum-salary option in favor of a three-year, $19.5MM contract.

Bruce Brown will earn $22MM in 2023/24 instead of the $6.8MM he would have earned if he had picked up his player option with Denver. Although Brown didn’t receive guaranteed money beyond ’23/24, that’s still a huge win for a player whose career earnings prior to this offseason totaled about $15MM.

Even Montrezl Harrell, who signed a new minimum-salary contract with the Sixers earlier this month, is coming out ahead, since he’ll make more on his new deal ($2,891,467) than he would have if he had exercised his option ($2,760,026).

That leaves just one unsigned player out of the nine who declined player options in June: Derrick Jones Jr.

Jones’ decision was a bit of a surprise, since he said in an April interview that he intended to pick up his $3.36MM player option in order to return to the Bulls. Two months later, word broke that the veteran wing had actually decided to turn it down and would be entering free agency.

Jones has been the subject of a few rumors this month, including being linked to the Mavericks a couple weeks ago. But the fact that he doesn’t yet have a deal in place doesn’t bode especially well for his chances of earning a raise. At this point in the summer, not many players are signing for more than the veteran’s minimum, though Dallas does have the ability to offer a higher starting salary.

Perhaps Jones, who played for the Heat for two-and-a-half seasons from 2017-20, might be interested in taking the Josh Richardson route and returning to his old team in Miami on a minimum-salary deal. But the Heat are in a holding pattern with free agents until they determine one way or another whether they’ll be making a deal for Damian Lillard this offseason.

There’s still a possibility that Jones could sign for more than the $3.36MM he would’ve earned if he had opted in with the Bulls. And even if he has to settle for a minimum-salary contract, it wouldn’t be the end of the world — that sort of deal would pay him $2.7MM, which isn’t far off from the $3.2MM he earned this past season. But that outcome would make him the only one of the nine players who declined options to end up with less guaranteed money than what his option called for.

Bulls Notes: Luxury Tax, Rotation, Williams, Dosunmu

The Bulls will likely be close to the luxury tax threshold all season, but K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago doesn’t expect them to be willing to end the year in tax territory. Executive vice president Arturas Karnisovas said on draft night that he would lobby ownership to pay the tax for a contender, but Johnson states that it’s hard to see him getting approval for a team that finished 10th in the East last season.

Johnson estimates that the Bulls are about $2.4MM away from tax territory with two open roster spots. He expects the team to unload point guard Carlik Jones, whose non-guaranteed $1.9MM salary is roughly the same as a veteran’s minimum contract, and try to get frontcourt help instead.

Johnson adds that filling both roster openings with minimum contracts would put Chicago slightly over the tax line. He expects management to keep one spot open heading into the season and see what opportunities become available to add players. The Bulls have about half of their $12.4MM non-taxpayer mid-level exception remaining, along with a $4.5MM bi-annual exception and a $10.2MM disabled player exception that was granted for Lonzo Ball‘s injury.

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Billy Donovan‘s 10-man rotation appears set with training camp two months away, and the biggest questions seem to be who will start at point guard and power forward, Johnson adds in the same piece. If Donovan continues his emphasis on defense, Johnson expects newly acquired Torrey Craig to get the nod at power forward, with either Alex Caruso or free agent addition Jevon Carter running the point. The return of Derrick Jones Jr. or a free agent signing such as Rudy Gay could upend the current rotation, Johnson adds, possibly pushing out Andre Drummond.
  • Bulls officials want Patrick Williams to become more aggressive as he enters his fourth NBA season, according to Johnson. Williams returned from an injury to play all 82 games last season, and Johnson believes the organization should be patient with a player who won’t turn 22 until next month.
  • The Bulls may have slightly overpaid for Ayo Dosunmu, but keeping him on the roster was still a good move, contends Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. The restricted free agent received $21MM over three years and now has to make a case for consistent playing time in a crowded backcourt.

Free Agent Rumors: Oubre, Jones, Brooks, Smith, Giles

The Mavericks are actively looking to improve their roster and have shown “exploratory interest in several free agent forwards,” including veterans Kelly Oubre and Derrick Jones Jr., league sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

Although Dallas technically still has a good chunk of its full mid-level exception available, the team has yet to sign first-rounder Olivier-Maxence Prosper, and once that occurs the Mavs will be pretty close to the luxury tax line. They do have an open standard roster spot and could offer a free agent more money than the veteran’s minimum, but not much more unless other moves are made.

On a related note, Scotto confirms that the Mavs continue to shop Tim Hardaway Jr. and JaVale McGee in trade talks. Recent rumors have indicated Dallas tried to package Hardaway and McGee to the Pistons for Bojan Bogdanovic and Killian Hayes.

Scotto hears Detroit was looking for “essentially two first-round picks” in exchange for Bogdanovic last season, though Hayes could available with a glut of guards on the Pistons’ roster.

Here are more free agent rumors from Scotto:

  • Free agent guard Armoni Brooks, who has been playing well for the Nets in Summer League, could be a candidate for a two-way deal from Brooklyn, according to Scotto. However, if that doesn’t transpire, the 25-year-old has also drawn interest from “multiple EuroLeague teams,” Scotto reports. Brooks holds two years of NBA experience with the Rockets and Raptors. He played for Atlanta’s G League affiliate, the College Park Skyhawks, in 2022/23.
  • League sources tell Scotto that the Hornets offered Dennis Smith Jr. more than the veteran’s minimum to return to Charlotte, but the Nets reached out to the point guard right after free agency opened and he saw an opportunity for more playing time in Brooklyn. The fact that he was a priority for the Nets also appealed to the former lottery pick, says Scotto.
  • The Pistons, Cavaliers, Knicks and Bucks were among the teams who watched Harry Giles‘ recent workout in Las Vegas, sources tell Scotto. Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News recently reported that members of the Timberwolves attended as well, which Scotto confirms. A former first-round pick, Giles has been out of the league the past two seasons after playing with the Kings and Trail Blazers from 2018-21. Still just 25 years old, Giles recently discussed his attempt to make it back into the NBA.

Bulls’ Derrick Jones Jr. Declining 2023/24 Player Option

Bulls forward Derrick Jones Jr. plans to decline his player option for 2023/24 to become an unrestricted free agent, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Jones signed a two-year, $6.56MM contract with Chicago last summer that includes an opt-out decision after year one. His option for ’23/24 is worth a guaranteed $3.36MM.

The move comes as something of a surprise, as the 26-year-old told K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago in April that he planned to pick up the option to stay with the Bulls.

“Like I told coach (Billy Donovan) and everybody else, I’m locked in for two years. I didn’t sign for two years for no reason. So I’m here for two years,” Jones said. “I just gotta sit down with my agent and talk to him, figure things out. But I don’t see why not. I got no other plans, yet.”

As Jones implied at the end of that statement, plans can change, especially as players get closer to free agency. He must be confident he can exceed his option as a free agent — it’s worth noting that a seven-year veteran like Jones would earn a projected $2.7MM on a veteran’s minimum contract.

The Bulls have Jones’ Bird rights if they want to re-sign him to a new contract.

Jones appeared in 64 games for the Bulls this past season, averaging 5.0 points and 2.4 rebounds and shooting .500/.338/.738 in 14.0 minutes per night. With the exception of his three-point percentage, those numbers were all down from the ones he posted during his first year in Chicago in ’21/22.

In fact, Jones’ minutes, points and rebounds were all down when compared to his previous four seasons after becoming a rotation regular with Miami in ’18/19. The high-flying Jones is known as a strong, versatile defensive player, though he doesn’t provide much scoring or play-making on the other end.

Jones isn’t the only Bull with a $3.36MM player option for 2023/24. As our list of free agents by team shows, veteran center Andre Drummond will have to make a decision on an identical option.

We’re tracking all of this year’s player option decisions right here.