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.