If there’s one thing the Lakers have lacked in their core rotation, it’s a player of both sizes. Y speed. Marc Gasol only has the former, while Montrezl Harrell boasts the latter. But while they only signed Damian Jones on Friday morning, and he has yet to don the suit for the team, he has already shown both qualities.
The show of his size came when Jones sat down to speak to the media at Zoom before the Lakers’ game against the Portland Trail Blazers. The camera rig the team had initially installed had cut off almost the entire forehead where Jones’s 6’11 frame comes to an end, and even after a quick adjustment, he still didn’t quite fit.
The demonstration of his speed came earlier, although we still did not know it. After being cut by the Suns on Tuesday, Jones was still in Phoenix around 4:00 p.m. Thursday when he received the call from his agent that the Lakers wanted to offer him a 10-day contract. He had to arrive in Los Angeles at 11:00 p.m. that night to get tested for coronavirus and sign his agreement so he could be active on Friday, and he still needed to rent a car before he could leave. But Jones rushed in and made it through with 20 minutes to spare.
As a result of his speed to get to Los Angeles and the size that the Lakers lack while Anthony Davis is out, Jones might have a chance, although head coach Frank Vogel acknowledged before the game that it was “unlikely” that Jones will play the Blazers. . But every time Jones enters the game, he, Vogel and general manager Rob Pelinka see his skill set as an archetype that Lakers fans have been complaining the team isn’t around for weeks.
“It’s like the role of JaVale and Dwight last year, how they held the tires and protected the tire, things like that. I’m trying to bring in some of the same things, ”Jones said. “Vertical space on the offensive side, being able to defend the rim.”
That’s a pretty lofty comparison for a guy the Lakers are basically bringing in for a glorified test, but while he didn’t use the names Howard and McGee, it’s almost identical to the terms in which Vogel described Jones’s game.
“It provides vertical space on both sides of the ball. The threat of the balloon, but also the verticality and the blocking of shots at the rim. He definitely has a skill set that can help us, ”Vogel said. “He is a talented young man and a very polished young man. So we are excited to take a look at it for the next 10 days. “
While this year’s front court obviously brings its own unique and positive abilities, this season the duo of Harrell and Gasol have completed just 4 alley-oops combined (representing both dunks and lay-ups).
It seems that vertical play is something FO / Coaches want to address https://t.co/Rv3DxUaMFO
– Alex Regla (@AlexmRegla) February 27, 2021
Some of the Lakers already know their game. In Los Angeles, Jones reunites with former Warriors teammate Alfonzo McKinnie, who has also been a supporting player this season, which is a relationship that Jones believes can help him catch up even faster.
“It’s great to have former teammates that I know on the team to show me my role,” Jones said. “Just familiar faces to help me get used to it.”
As a championship contender as he fights for his future in the NBA with his fourth team in five years, Jones will need all the help he can get. But he has already shown that he is willing to make things happen to fight for this opportunity. Even if that means dropping everything, tracking down a rental car, and taking a five-and-a-half-hour drive in just under seven hours to get a coronavirus test with no more guarantee than a 10-day paycheck.
“It was pretty crazy,” Jones said of the last 24 hours that took him to Staples Center on Friday.
It would be even crazier if you could have an impact on the time and limited opportunities you think you have. But hey, he has fulfilled all the tasks that the Lakers have asked him so far. Now you just need to do it again.
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