Utah Jazz training camp is just a few days away–let the rejoicing commence. While Utah has added a number of players over the past few weeks1, a team can carry 20 players into training camp and into preseason (though many teams will cut a few guys prior to preseason). In a surprising move on Monday, the Jazz signed longtime vet Dahntay Jones to assume one of the remaining vacancies.
Yes, Dahntay Jones. Confusing a bit, I know.
Many longtime NBA fans are somewhat familiar with Jones, but it never hurts to learn a bit more, so let’s take a look at the newest Jazzman2.
At 33 years old, Jones has been around the basketball block a few times. The 6’6″ swingman hails from New Jersey and played his first two collegiate seasons at Rutgers University. He then become one of very few players who successfully have transferred to Duke and coach Mike Krzyzewski. In fact, the Jazz now have two of those players, Rodney Hood being the other. His defense and his fundamental play helped him become a valued player. Jones averaged 17.7 PPG (40% 3s) as a senior and turned enough heads to be tabbed as the 20th pick in the 2003 Draft by the Boston Celtics. He was promptly shipped to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for Kendrick Perkins.
Jones played his first four seasons in Memphis, improving gradually each season. His fourth season there was one of his best, as he posted 7.5 PPG and 2.0 RPG in 21.4 MPG. That said, after his rookie deal, the Grizzlies opted to go a different direction. He had a cup of coffee in Boston (waived after the preseason) and Sacramento in 2007-08. Jones then had a nice break, inking a deal with the Denver Nuggets. He became a starter alongside Carmelo Anthony, Allen Iverson and Chauncey Billups, playing the role of the defensive specialist on that high-scoring squad. He parlayed that season into a multi-year contract with the Indiana Pacers.
Jones enjoyed his best statistical season with the Pacers, averaging a career-high 10.2 PPG in 2010. He last played in the 2012-13 season, splitting time with the Dallas Mavericks and the Atlanta Hawks. Jones was brought in by the Chicago Bulls last season, but only lasted two weeks before being waived.
As is the case with most roster moves, there are pros and cons with Dahntay Jones. Let’s start with the latter, as they seem more obvious based on most people’s reactions to the signing. First, Jones did not play last year. At 33, how much does the 10-year NBA veteran have in the tank? He’ll undoubtedly have a lot of rust to shake off.
Second, he has never been the most effective player. Jones has a career 9.6 PER, with just a 6.4 mark his last NBA campaign. His play has been labeled dirty on occasion–just ask Deron Williams and Kobe Bryant.
Jones is a slightly below average shooter and will never be confused as a perimeter shooter– just 106 3FGs in the NBA on 33.4 percent shooting. He’s essentially a 3-and-D guy without the 3 and with declining D.
Lastly, should he make the roster, Utah will be his seventh team. He has been traded four times and waived thrice.
So why bring him to camp? Jones’ defensive intensity and effort cannot be questioned. He is fiery, hard-nosed and tireless on that end. With head coach Quin Snyder’s emphasis on improving the team’s defensive schemes, perhaps Jones was brought it to help with that cause.
With 15 of the 19 players 24 and younger3, Snyder probably also wants to add a bit of a veteran presence to the mix. Even if he does not make the regular season roster, having his experience around might be the main reason for his invite. There is also the Duke connection, and one always has to consider moves like this as being a favor to an agent.4
So there you have it–probably more analysis than you wanted about Dahntay Jones. With a non-guaranteed deal and a lot of competition, the guess is he probably won’t last past October. But one never knows.