It might be a new summer, but the Lakers are still bringing back former players. Big man Damian Jones has reportedly agreed to a two-year deal with the Lakers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Jones' agent, Austin Brown of @CAA_Basketball, tells ESPN the second year is a player option.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2022
As noted by Woj, the second year is a player option for Jones. Better yet, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, the deal is for the veteran’s minimum, allowing the Lakers to keep their taxpayer mid-level exception.
McMenamin on ESPN: Damian Jones is on a vet minimum— Trevor Lane (@Trevor_Lane) June 30, 2022
During the 2020-21 season, Jones played eight games for the Lakers on a pair of 10-day contracts. In that brief spell, he averaged just 5.4 points and 3.3 rebounds in 14 minutes per game, but won over Lakers fans in the process.
After letting him walk following the expiration of those deals, Jones finished the season in Sacramento before returning to play for the Kings last season. In 56 games, he averaged 8.1 points and 4.4 rebounds while shooting an impressive 65.8% from the field.
Jones represents a big upgrade for the Lakers over last year’s center rotation which consisted of an over-the-hill DeAndre Jordan and a slightly more usable Dwight Howard.
As was the case during his last tenure, Jones offers the Lakers not just a legitimate lob threat, but a young and athletic body that was very much not present for much of last season. His presence also lessens the need for LeBron James to play the 5, though Jones has never averaged more than 18.2 minutes per game over a full season in his career.
Jones did flash a willingness to shoot 3-pointers last season, attempting 29 across the 56 games he played. Whether that becomes part of his game moving forward remains to be seen, but that development could help the Lakers space the floor horizontally. His ability to space the floor vertically though, is undeniable, and Jones’ presence should provide the Lakers’ frontcourt with an athletic flair it noticeably lacked last season.