Talk about a quick break: Before he even signed a deal, Damian Jones’ first assignment with the Lakers was to get from Phoenix to Los Angeles in less than seven hours.
Jones, 25, got the call Thursday afternoon at 4pm and the Lakers needed him in El Segundo at 11pm. conduct a coronavirus test that would free him to play the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night. It was the first real test of Jones’ ingenuity: he managed to rent a car, drive over the southwest to the coast, and do it in about 20 minutes.
The 6-foot-11, 245-pound center officially signed a 10-day deal with the Lakers on Friday morning, the team said. He is expected to sustain the tall man’s depth, which has been frustratingly thin since All-Star Anthony Davis was injured.
Jones is in his fifth year outside of Vanderbilt and three of those seasons have been with Golden State, including the 2017 and 2018 championships. Most recently, Jones was with the Phoenix Suns, who renounced him on Wednesday after failing the rotation had cracked: For the season he played a total of 94 minutes in just 14 games. He has scored 22 total points and committed 19 fouls.
Without Davis, the Lakers need a shot block, which could be one area Jones can help with. Jones, who is from Louisiana, averaged one block per game in his most prolific season (2018-19) with the Warriors, which spanned 22 starts. Last season with the Atlanta Hawks, he averaged 5.6 points and 3.7 rebounds.
It might be generous to call JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard when it comes to Jones, who could just be a short-term void for the deep until the All-Star hiatus. But the Lakers have two vacant posts, and maybe Jones could claim one on the street if he can dip a toe in those shoes.
« It creates vertical distances on both sides of the ball, » said coach Frank Vogel. “The threat of praise on the edge, but also the verticality and the shot blocking on the edge. He definitely has skills that can help us. »
Under Rob Pelinka, former supporters of the Warriors have found a way to end up in the Lakers’ rounds: In recent seasons they have signed JaVale McGee, Quinn Cook and DeMarcus Cousins and swapped them for Alfonzo McKinnie.
The Lakers have limited options to expand their roster as their tough salary cap means they have less than $ 2 million to spare to fill in roster posts, including one they created on Wednesday when they cooked have shortened. Much of the list also refers to first year new contracts or one-year contracts that limit the team’s ability to trade players.
Jones took his seat at the Staples Center two hours before the tip to discuss his role with assistants Mike Penberthy and Phil Handy, although he was not expected to play on Friday night. Having McKinnie, a former teammate, is helpful, he said.
« It’s cool to have former teammates that I know on the squad who kind of show me what’s going on, » he said. “Part of the team’s culture. Just a familiar face, help me get used to it. »
An idea from Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving caught the attention of Lakers owner Jeanie Buss.
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After Irving said the late Lakers star Kobe Bryant should be the silhouette for the NBA logo – he adopted the current logo based on another great Laker Jerry West – Buss tweeted in support of the proposal, which was also made by Vanessa Bryant was stamped: “I agree with Vanessa Bryant. Kobe set a standard and the players agree too. Let me know what you think. »
Part of Irving’s rationale is that a league that is 75 percent black is not represented by a black player. Irving announced that the league was « built by Black Kings » and said that he thought it would be of cultural significance for Bryant’s image to be used to represent the NBA.
« It was the standard for our generation and it will go on, » he said, « and I want this to be something in history that is forever changed, that our generation was part of that change. »
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