News came last week that Terrence Jones, discarded by the Houston Rockets after last season, had signed a one-year deal for the league minimum of $1 million with the New Orleans Pelicans.
The former Kentucky star played in just 83 games over the last two years with the Rockets. He averaged 12.1 points and 6.9 rebounds in 2013-14, his second year as a pro, and appeared ready for a breakout year. Instead, injuries limited Jones to just 33 games in 2014-15, when he averaged 11.7 points per game. Jones played in 50 games last season, his points-per-game average dropping to 8.7.
When the Rockets failed to tender a contract offer to Jones, he opted to sign with New Orleans and re-join his old college teammate Anthony Davis. Together, the duo helped lead Kentucky to the national title in 2011-12.
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I asked my friend Brett Dawson, who covers the Pelicans for The Advocate in Baton Rouge, for an opinion about how Jones will fit in with New Orleans. Here is Dawson’s reply:
“In Jones, the Pelicans are getting a potential high-reward player at low risk,” Dawson wrote. “He’s expected to sign a one-year deal for as little as the league minimum – for a player with his experience, about $1.05 million – or slightly more.
In Jones, the Pelicans are getting a potential high-reward player at low risk.
Brett Dawson, who covers New Orleans for The Advocate in Baton Rouge
“That’s probably a worthwhile gamble for a player who in his second and third NBA seasons looked on the verge of a breakout. In 2013-14 and 2014-15 combined, Jones played 109 games – injuries hampered his 2014-15 season – and averaged 12 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game.
“But Jones was bad this season. He had nagging injuries, including those stemming from a car accident just before the All-Star break, and was inconsistent even when he was available. His scoring (8.7 points per game) and rebounding (4.2 per game) fell off, and he shot a career-low 45.2 percent from the floor.
“In ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus rating – a metric that estimates an individual’s per-game plus-minus impact, adjusted for the effect of the other nine players on the court – Jones was -5.94, the second-worst number in the league (coincidentally, the only player worse was Archie Goodwin at -6.27).
“Jones probably could have made at least a little more money elsewhere, but the fact that he’ll sign for something near the league minimum in New Orleans during this summer of outrageous spending tells you that his stock plummeted this season.
“But if Jones is healthy and motivated – and a one-year contract with the chance to re-enter another free-spending free agency next summer should motivate any player – he has a chance to be a contributor in New Orleans.
“The Pelicans needed frontcourt depth after a free-agency period spent mostly on shoring up the backcourt. They could use a versatile power forward who’s good in the open floor, can finish at the rim and who’s strong enough to take on some of the bigger-bodied frontcourt players the Pelicans want to keep Anthony Davis away from. Jones won’t replace Ryan Anderson’s 3-point shooting, but he has a chance to be a better defender and a decent fit in the offense.
“And the hope is that playing alongside Davis will revitalize Jones in New Orleans, where, as Kentucky fans know, the two won a national championship in 2012. The NBA is filled with guys who thrived after a change of scenery, and if Jones can come anywhere close to the form he showed in his second and third years, he’s a steal on a contract close to the minimum. If he doesn’t, the Pelicans’ investment is minimal.”
New Orleans Pelicans roster