Big Man’s Future With Lakers Uncertain Following Rough Night

Getty Marc Gasol shoots against current Los Angeles Lakers teammate Damian Jones, formerly of the Suns, earlier in the season.

Damian Jones drew his first start as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night against the Sacramento Kings. He’s hoping it won’t be his last action wearing purple and gold this season.

Jones signed a 10-day contract with the Lakers last week and it will run out before the All-Star break is over. The Lakers next play on March 13, so he’s run out of opportunities to impress. The question now is if the big man has done enough to earn a longer stay in L.A.

Jones’ performance against the Kings did not help his cause. He notched one rebound and one block in 15 minutes for the shorthanded Lakers, collecting three fouls.

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel was noncommittal — at best — when asked about Jones’ future with the team after the game.

“We’ll see. I’m not certain what we’re going to do, but he’s done well in the opportunities he’s gotten,” Vogel told reporters, per Harrison Faigen of Silver Screen & Roll. “I would say he should be optimistic about what’s ahead of him.”

Damian Jones More Productive in Other Outings

Jones was much more impressive in his two previous outings, looking like a piece the Lakers needed on the roster as a rim-defending big-man. He was especially strong in his debut, collecting 8 points, 3 rebounds and 2 blocks in just eight minutes during a blowout of Golden State.

“Everybody has been talking, telling me different ways I can help impact the team. The situation, of course it’s pressure, but got to live up to the moment and perform your best. Know what you can do and go out and perform,” Jones told reporters. “It felt pretty good. I’m trying to get accustomed to the system, I watched a lot of film of how I’m supposed to play, and it felt really good to really help out.”

Jones was dealing with a back strain and was listed as questionable heading into the back-to-back against the Suns and Kings. Perhaps that slowed down the big man, although he did say the issue was “minor.”

Jones has now played in 21 career games (40 starts) for the Lakers, Golden State, Atlanta and Phoenix, with averages of 4.2 points (66.2 % shooting) and 2.8 rebounds in 13.2 minutes. Last season with Atlanta, Jones notched 5.6 points and 3.7 rebounds. Before being waived by Phoenix this season he recorded 1.6 points and 1.3 rebounds per game.

If Jones has played his final game with the Lakers, his claim to fame can be that he never missed a shot while with the team, going 5-for-5 from the field. He did not attempt a shot against the Kings.

Lakers Have Roster Decisions to Make Soon

Getty ImagesLakers head coach Frank Vogel.

With Anthony Davis injured, the Lakers could have seen Jones simply as a stopgap before the All-Star break. LeBron James, Marc Gasol, Alex Caruso and Davis all missed the game against the Kings, opening up a spot for Jones in the starting lineup.

With rumors swirling about the Lakers’ plans at the trade deadline and on the buyout market, it makes the most sense that the team would keep Jones’ resume on file after the 10-day deal expires, but look at their other options.

Andre Drummond, Hassan Whiteside and JaVale McGee have all been mentioned as targets for the Lakers via trade or post-buyout deals to fill the big-man need on the roster.

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