Saying he merely was looking to “find the best situation for me,” Miami Heat forward James Jonesconfirmed Wednesday to the Sun Sentinel that he has decided to opt out of the 2011-12 season on his contract.
Jones, however, stressed that the decision was not in response to being benched for the final nine games of the playoffs, including all six games of the NBA Finals, which the Heat lost to the Dallas Mavericks.
“If anything,” Jones said, “making it to the Finals is an enticement to stay.”
Jones, 30, a University of Miami graduate and Southwest Ranches resident, said the decision was made merely to increase his options.
Jones filled in for the injured/ineffective Mike Miller for most of the year, and did a great job of doing it. Jones led all Small forwards in True Shooting Percentage and had the lowest turnover ratio of any small forward in the league. Given that Jones also played surprisingly good defense last season, he was essentially the perfect Heat role player — he made the open shots that James and Wade created for him, and he didn’t make mistakes.
A healthy and effective Mike Miller would theoretically render Jones superfluous, as Miller is a lights-out three-point shooter who is a better rebounder and passer than Jones, and has the ability to put the ball on the floor and get all the way to the rim, which Jones cannot do. However, after Miller’s injury-riddled career-worst season, the Heat may not feel comfortable letting Jones walk in free agency and putting so many of their eggs in the Mike Miller basket. However, with Mario Chalmers a restricted free agent and the Heat looking to upgrade at center, they may not be able to keep Jones in free agency, especially with a potentially restrictive CBA agreement looming.