Down the stretch last season, Damian Jones was awesome for the Kings. He was a mobile center who defended well—both inside and, when necessary, out—ran the floor, played within himself, hit any dump offs or put backs that came his way, and seemed to sink open jump shots.
With Richaun Holmes slumping due to setbacks both on and off the floor and, a bit later, with Domantas Sabonis going down for the final nine games, Jones looked fabulous for Sacramento in the middle. In fact, behind Sabonis, he was easily playing like the next-best center and seemed to flaunt visions of a nice pairing at the 5 with Jones as Domas’ backup.
Since then, the Kings were unable to move Holmes in the offseason and decided to settle on their former starter to be the reserve center, which has been a flop despite the high hopes. Jones, meanwhile, went to the Lakers after earning a two-year deal, but fans in LA would probably be quick to call that signing a flop, too.
Jones was given opportunities in the preseason and early in the year, but he could not hold down a role off the bench for coach Darvin Ham. After Anthony Davis got hurt a month ago, Jones got another chance, but following the injury, he appeared in four of the subsequent five games—where LA went 1-5—and has not played since.
At this point, Davis was set to begin running again this week and is projected to return in the first weeks of February, per Shams Charania.
This last weekend, ESPN reported that the Lakers brought in Meyers Leonard and DeMarcus Cousins in for a workout. Darvin Ham noted that the team will take any opportunity to “kick the tires on different scenarios,” making no promises to either’s chances of making the squad.
But there is now an open roster spot in Los Angeles as the Lakers chose not to extend Sterling Brown on another 10-day contract after his first one expired Sunday night.
As to what the Lakers do with that spot is sort of irrelevant. What is clear is they are still keeping an eye out for any help they can get in Anthony Davis’ absence. Thomas Bryant has been good, averaging over 16 points and just under 10 rebounds since Davis went down, starting all of those games, and Wenyen Gabriel has given them some play, but Jones is still void of any real role on the team, which has been the case for close to three months.
Of course, Kings fans would be justified in wondering whether Jones can reemerge to the level of play he flashed last spring. Nobody can definitively argue that he’d be a seamless fit that would be an adequate solution; his season thus far creates room for the unknown.
Sure, but can it hurt, especially at just under $2.3 million?
That sort of contract doesn’t put Los Angeles in an urgent position to try and move him, but if the Kings could land him—maybe as part of a bigger deal—he’d ostensibly give them the size and skillset Mike Brown appears to want out of a center.
If Sacramento can manage to move Richaun Holmes, as they are looking to do, then that gives them financial flexibility to get a higher-priced option for Sabonis’ backup either as part of the deal or after. But perhaps that doesn’t come around, or perhaps Sacramento opts for a wing off the bench.
Either way, Damian Jones is at the very least hard to ignore.
Given what he’s done for this team just last year, his flexible contract, and apparent availability, should the Sacramento Kings pursue Damian Jones? And can they manage to land him?
Low risk idea and it could work. Not sure if he could be better than Metu, Holmes or Queta but it’s a possibility he could return to the player he was at end of last year,