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Damian Jones says familiarity with Lakers led to his return this offseason

A pair of 10-day contracts a year ago laid the groundwork for Damian Jones’ triumphant return to the Lakers this offseason.

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Minnesota Timberwolves v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

Not all 10-day contracts are created equal. Some serve as a chance for a young player to showcase himself on a bigger stage, while others serve as a simple stop-gap in the face of a roster crunch. But few are like the ones Damian Jones signed with the Lakers in 2021.

Those 10-day deals were wildly successful, and while they didn’t lead to a season-long contract at that time, they did lay the groundwork for a future deal. The two sides finally built on that foundation a year later by agreeing to bring Jones back to the Lakers on a minimum deal.

“Being familiar with being here,” Jones said during Wednesday’s introductory press conference, “and maintaining a relationship and just the opportunity here getting to play with these guys – LeBron, Russ and AD – I feel like it’s a great opportunity.”

Jones has only played eight games in purple and gold, all of those coming from February 28 until March 20 of 2021. In that span, he missed exactly one field goal in his 17 attempts while going 11-12 at the free throw line for a crazy efficient cameo. Jones saw only 112 minutes on the court but made an imprint that left the fans and front office wanting more.

“I felt like I left a good impression and tried to continue on my own,” Jones said. “I try to leave it all out there for better opportunities to come up. It worked out well.”

After his short stint in Los Angeles, Jones set up camp in Sacramento for the remainder of the 2020-21 season and stayed on through all of last year. He further established himself as a legitimate NBA center, shooting 65.8% from the field in 18.6 minutes per game across 73 contests.

A midseason trade for Domantas Sabonis and a hefty contract to Richaun Holmes paved the way for Jones’ exit from the Kings after a season-and-a-half. The Lakers did not find a longterm solution at center after Jones’ departure, leaving the runway clear for him to return.

His deal is a year and a couple of 10-days in the making, and one that figures to be a mutually beneficial one. The Lakers get a young, athletic, bouncy center and Jones gets a shot at a starting spot once again.

“I was trying to leave a good impression for future opportunities,” Jones said. “For me to be able to come back here is great. I’m glad to be here and I’m glad those 10-days worked out well.”

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