The Los Angeles Clippers today signed veteran small forward Dahntay Jones for the remainder of the season. The second of his two 10 day contracts expired, and the team had to sign him or let him go according to NBA rules. The move was expected, but in the big picture I am still mildly surprised.
Here's the official press release:
The Los Angeles Clippers announced today they have signed guard Dahntay Jones for the remainder of the season.
Jones, 34, has appeared in nine games for Los Angeles and is averaging 0.4 points, 0.1 rebounds and 0.2 steals in 3.2 minutes. He originally signed with the Clippers on Jan. 14, the first of two consecutive 10-day contracts.
Jones, who was the 16th GATORADE call-up of the 2014-15 season, appeared in 19 games (15 starts) for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA Development League and averaged 14.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 29.2 minutes.
A 10-year NBA veteran who has appeared in 597 career games (157 starts), has averaged 5.6 points, 1.8 rebounds and 0.9 assists in 16.2 minutes with Memphis, Sacramento, Denver, Indiana, Dallas, Atlanta and Los Angeles.
Originally drafted by the Boston Celtics with the 20th overall pick in the first round of the 2003 NBA Draft, Jones was traded to Memphis on Draft Day and spent four seasons with the Grizzlies.
A New Jersey native, the 6-foot-6 inch guard/forward played two seasons at Rutgers before transferring to Duke for his junior and senior season, where he and Clippers guard J.J. Redick were teammates during the 2002-03 season.
The Clippers remain hamstrung by the hard salary cap. They certainly have the money to keep Jones and sign another veteran or two to a minimum deal. But Jones has only played 29 minutes in the 10 games he's been with the team -- with about a third of that coming in garbage time against the Nets. With money and roster spots potentially scarce, making Jones permanent has a cost.
But by all accounts Jones has added value in other ways. He's visibly the best towel-waver the Clippers have had since Ronny Turiaf left town. The bench has been significantly more active and engaged in the three weeks since Jones' arrival, and Jones is the ringleader. He's a veteran and a solid citizen, and that has value, even if he doesn't get on the floor. What is that worth? Is it worth a prorated minimum salary and a roster spot? Apparently Doc Rivers thinks so.
Whether he can add value on the court at some point remains to be seen. Right now he's injury insurance, as Hedo Turkoglu has moved into the backup three spot. But Turkoglu is never going to be confused for a defensive stopper, and while that title may not describe Jones these days either, he might still be able to provide a couple of rotations against the likes of Kevin Durant or James Harden or LeBron James.
Until such time as he's called on to try to shut down a high scoring wing, Jones will be there on the sidelines, waving his towel and high-fiving his teammates. The benefit of that isn't easy to calculate, but it's pretty clear that there has been a positive impact.