Anthony Carter, Dahntay Jones

Dahntay Jones rightfully moves to the end of the Pacers’ bench

1 Comment

Dahntay Jones spent the initial stage of last season on an unprecedented tear. After a series of unimpressive campaigns for the Grizzlies, Kings, and Nuggets, the power of a Pacer uniform somehow brought out the best in him. Through the ’09-’10 season’s first 15 games, Jones averaged 16.7 points (on 45% shooting) and four rebounds a night, and while those numbers weren’t quite impressive enough to turn his rookie card into a collector’s item, they were about three steps up in production for a previously marginal NBA player.

It looked like it was too good to be true, and it was.

Jones performed reasonably well for the rest of the season, but he would never match his November production. That was the brightest Jones’ star ever burned, and now with Mike Dunleavy Jr. back from injury, James Posey added via trade, and Paul George in need of experience and developmental opportunities, Jones has become a forgotten man. The four-year, $11 million contract that Jones somehow milked from Indiana now seems every bit as ridiculous as it was the day he signed it last summer, and the guard’s startlingly effective Pacer debut has been rendered irrelevant to everyone but Jones and his agent.

The Pacers are done. They’ve tried to trade him, and though unsuccessful in their attempts, they’ll keep trying. From Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star:

It took Jones, the Pacers’ main offseason acquisition in 2009, four games before he made his first appearance of the season. In 11 minutes Wednesday night against the Philadelphia 76ers, Jones had eight points and four rebounds. “Yeah, it’s tough,” he said. “I’m competitive and I work hard. You work hard for the opportunity to play. When you don’t get in, it’s frustrating. But it’s part of the game and you work hard until your number is called.”

…Jones appeared in 76 games, including 26 starts, last season. But his playing time dwindled late in the season because he doesn’t shoot well enough from the perimeter to allow the Pacers to space the court. He was 4-of-32 on 3-pointers last season. The Pacers tried to trade Jones to clear a roster spot for Magnum Rolle last month, and they’re expected to continue to try to get him moved. “I’m a basketball player and I’ll always be a basketball player,” Jones said. “You will never call me a shooter. I just play basketball. I don’t take it as a negative that I’m not a shooter. I just play hard and hope what I bring to the table will be useful to the team.”

Jones is right: he’s no shooter. The problem is that he’s not really much of anything else, either. A fine athlete. A decent defender. Probably worthy of a spot at the end of someone’s bench, and Indy is as good of a landing point as any. He’s just not worth the money they’re paying him, and despite last November’s mirage, never has been. The Pacers overpaid for Jones and now are saddled with his obligatory roster spot, even if they’d prefer to have Magnum Rolle in his place.

Aaron Gordon both legs over the mascot, ball-under-the-legs dunk (VIDEO)

4 Comments

TORONTO — Zach LaVine won the NBA All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, but in an epic night for my money this was the single best dunk.

Orlando’s Aaron Gordon broke ground with this one — guys have jumped over mascots and other players before (and a Kia hood), but by splitting their legs apart. Gordon just put both legs over Stuff (that’s the mascot’s name, Stuff the Magic Dragon, I don’t make this up) — and took the ball off the mascot’s head, went under his legs, and threw it down.

Insane.

Gordon deserved a trophy for his performance in this dunk contest.

Zach LaVine edges Aaron Gordon in epic, insane Dunk Contest

9 Comments

TORONTO — That. Was. Amazing.

In a dunk contest that will go down with the all-time greats — Jordan vs. Dominique, Dr. J from the free throw line — Minnesota’s Zach LaVine defended his dunk contest title. Barely. Because Orlando’s Aaron Gordon was doing dunks nobody had ever seen before.

And LaVine was bringing it just as hard.

The two men advanced to the finals — dismissing Will Barton and Andre Drummond, each of whom had good dunks — and that was when it got wild.

There were four second-round dunks, and four perfect scores of 50. (That was in spite of Shaq, who wanted to give nines for second attempts.)

“I was prepared for four (second round dunks),” LaVine said. “To tell the truth, he came with something that no one else has done. He did two dunks that were just crazy with the mascots, jumping over them. We just kept pushing each other until the last dunk. I’ve got to give it up to my boy Will “The Thrill” Barton. It’s because of him I think I won. Because he said try to go from the free-throw line. I’d never done that before, and I just tried it. So I guess it was a great dunk. I think it was the best one ever.”

The Air Canada Centre crowd was exploding with every dunk. The two men went to a dunk-off — and got two more 50s.

“If I knew it was going to be like that, I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50,” Gordon said. “We would have been here all night. I didn’t know it was going to be like that. I was just hoping Zach was going to miss, and it wasn’t going to happen. You could see as my facial expressions when Zach dunks it, it’s like okay, that’s a 50. Like I know we’re going to have to dunk again.”

So they went to a second-round of overtime, where LaVine put up another 50 and won the contest.

Gordon was close to perfect.

Zach LaVine can flat-out fly.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon with the over-the-mascot mad dunk

2 Comments

TORONTO — Aaron Gordon was giving Zach LaVine all he could handle in the Dunk Contest.

He blew the lid off the Air Canada Centre with this dunk in the first round — and it wasn’t even his best dunk of the night. Never seen this before.

This dunk contest was awesome, so much more video to come.

Zach LaVine opens Slam Dunk Contest title defense with spectacular behind-the-back slam (VIDEO)

during the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2016 at Air Canada Centre on February 12, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
1 Comment

TORONTO — Zach LaVine clearly heard all the talk that Aaron Gordon or Will Barton had a chance to upset him in the Slam Dunk Contest. He came out ready to prove his superiority right off the bat. This behind-the-back slam was his first attempt of the night:

Even better was the reaction, both from Andre Drummond and from LaVine’s Minnesota teammates: