Of the many news faces that joined the Lakers last offseason, two that had differing, but high, levels of intrigue were Damian Jones and Juan Toscano-Anderson. The former had a successful, if also brief, stint with the Lakers during the COVID-shortened season and fans were excited for his return. Toscano-Anderson was a childhood Lakers fan that was coming from a title-winning franchise where he had been a fan favorite.
However, neither player find anything close to regular rotation roles as the season progressed and both were dealt as part of the Russell Westbrook trade to Utah. While Westbrook’s final destination is not yet known, JTA and Jones seem set to remain with the Jazz in search of fresh starts.
The pair spoke to the media recently for the Jazz and talked about their feelings on being traded. Jones was honest about his experience in Los Angeles and how excited he is to be in Utah now, via Ryan Miller of KSL.com
“Being in LA, it was tough,” Jones said. “Coming into this situation, though, hopefully there’s a new opportunity.”
While that might come across as a bit as sour grapes or pointed in his comments, Jones was very fair about his situation with the Lakers.
“I was happy about it — kinda relieved,” he said. “My situation there wasn’t the best. I want to play basketball. I love this game. That’s what I wake up every day to do. I play this game because I actually like playing. I wasn’t seeing the time there, which is perfectly fine. I just wasn’t in the rotation, so I’m looking forward to a new opportunity.”
Jones had chances early in the year to make an impact but when he could not get into the rotation even with Anthony Davis out injured, the writing felt like it was on the wall.
With JTA, the frustration was apparent if also the chance at learning from his struggles in Los Angeles.
“It’s hard, but that’s life; life is never easy,” he said. “As humans, we make the mistake of thinking that life is always gonna be easier. In actuality, it’s not. Life is about overcoming challenges. I had a lot of growth. You know, even though I’ve (only been) reflecting on it for two and three days, but just between these two and three days, I’ve noticed a lot of growth that I’ve had in that particular situation. So it’s a part of life — take it in stride and keep going.”
Similar to Jones, JTA was one of the few wing-sized players on the roster and still couldn’t find time on the Lakers despite their desperate need for wings. Injuries played a small role in him not being available but he failed to make an impact even when he was.
Neither player made much of a fuss about their reduced roles this season and neither spoke ill of the Lakers upon leaving, so there’s no reason not to cheer for them at their next stops.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.