Damian Jones, the newest member of the Los Angeles Lakers, made his debut against the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night, notching eight points, three rebounds and two blocks in just over eight minutes on the court.
However, some troublesome news came after the game when the team announced Jones will be day-to-day with a back strain.
Despite having to exit the game against the Warriors due to the back issue, Jones assured the injury is not serious in his postgame comments. However, it causes complications for Jones, seeing as he’s on a 10-day contract with the Lakers.
He’ll only have limited time to show he can make an impact, although he got off on the right foot against the Warriors, showing he can provide rim protection and a new wrinkle to the offense.
Damian Jones is day-to-day with a lower back strain after making his LAL debut: 8 pts, 3 reb & 2 blk in 8 mins. He says the injury is "nothing too major." When asked the key to turning his 10-day contract into a full-season deal he said, "You got to live up to the moment"
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) March 1, 2021
“Of course there’s pressure,” Jones told reporters. “But you got to live up to the moment, try to perform your best, know what you can do and go out and perform.
“I’m trying to get accustomed to the system,” Jones added. “I’ve been watching a lot of film of how I’m supposed to play and it felt really good to see that come out to really help out.”
— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) March 1, 2021
Damian Jones Embracing Lakers’ Atmosphere
Jones was waived by the Suns last week and quickly scooped up by the Lakers, who were looking to fill a roster spot after letting go of guard Quinn Cook.
Jones has played in 118 career games (49 starts) for Golden State, Atlanta and Phoenix, with averages of 4.3 points (65.7% shooting) and 2.8 rebounds in 13.3 minutes. Last season with Atlanta, Jones notched 5.6 points and 3.7 rebounds. In 14 games for Phoenix this year, he notched 1.6 points and 1.3 rebounds per game.
Jones won a pair of titles with Golden State, so he is used to playing on a team with championship expectations. It’s something he’s embracing with the Lakers.
“It’s great just being in this atmosphere,” Jones said. “It pushes the most out of you. You try to perform your best every night because everyone’s gunning for you. Everybody knows you’re in contention to go to the Finals, so just that pressure alone brings the best out of you. It’s great to compete.”
Lakers Teammates Cheering for Damian Jones
Jones has already made some friends in the Lakers clubhouse, with guys like Markieff Morris giving him tips so he’s able to extend his stay in purple and gold.
“I’ve been talking to him since he’s been here,” Morris said, according to Silver Screen & Roll. “I’ve been telling him there’s going to be some ups and downs, but he has to be able to do his job at a high level. We pretty much have everything else but a big-time shot blocker and kind of a lob guy, so I’m telling him, to stay with this team, to make an impact on this, we need to hear you on the court defensively, we need you to jump at everything at the rim and we need you to catch lobs, because that’s pretty much all we don’t have.”
Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma also stepped up with a statement of support for Jones.
“I think he’s got a shot to be here if he can just do what he did out there,” Kuzma told reporters after the game.
Kyle Kuzma on Damian Jones' Lakers debut: "I think he's got a shot to be here" if he continue to do what he did tonight.
— Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA) March 1, 2021
Jones’ contract runs up to the All-Star Break, so the Lakers will likely want to get him on the court for some real minutes soon to see if he’s a long-term solution. However, the injury to Jones has become the wild card and the Lakers play only two more games before the break.