Damian Jones already had his first 10-day contract with the Los Angeles Lakers expire, but the team is bringing him back for a second one on Thursday, which will likely be when they’ll have their first practice to get ready for the second half of the season that will tip off on Friday against the Indiana Pacers (Update: The Lakers made the signing official on Thursday).
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN broke the news, and his colleague Bobby Marks provided some cap context:
Jones played made a good impression in three games prior to the break and will continue to have a role with Anthony Davis out.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 10, 2021
Second and final (max of 2) 10-Day with Jones and the Lakers.— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) March 10, 2021
Cap hit of $110,998 (Jones will earn $118,983)
LAL is now $1.5M below the hard cap and still have an open roster available. https://t.co/QlkrSxBN5X
This is not an unexpected development given both how Jones played during his first 10-day — he owns the highest field goal percentage in team history (100%) by virtue of making all five of his shots in three games — and also how head coach Frank Vogel talked about him after the Lakers’ final game of the first half of the season last week.
“I think he’s played very well in the opportunities that he’s gotten and shown us a lot,” Vogel said last week. “He’s got great size, he’s a wonderful young man to be around our team and culture fit, and he’s got a skill set that fits the modern NBA. So I would say he should be optimistic about what’s ahead of him.”
So while Vogel wouldn’t explicitly promise a second 10-day, it’s pretty clear that he thought Jones had earned one. Now he has it.
Jones will now have 10 more days with the Lakers starting on Thursday, which would give him at least four more games to prove his worth, and possibly five, depending on what time the Lakers sign him on Thursday (they have a game on the 10th day at 12:30 p.m. PT). But whenever this contract does expire, the Lakers will have two options: To sign Jones to a deal for the rest of the season, or let him go. They could still re-sign him later if they choose the second option, but not to another 10-day deal, as a team can only sign a player to two such contracts per season.
As Marks noted above, the Lakers still have one free roster spot with Jones on the team, but they also could have two to use without him. We know they’re looking at other centers like Andre Drummond and DeMarcus Cousins on the buyout market, but if Jones keeps dunking everything in sight, he may just get his shot to be this team’s third-string center when everyone is healthy. That makes his progress and ongoing opportunity to get evaluated one of the most interesting subplots to watch for this team over the next week as they prepare for the March 25 trade deadline and buyout market frenzy in the weeks to come.