I like Dahntay Jones. He’s a professional, he plays hard and he plays D. And he can score better than most people give him credit for. But at the end of the day, he’s not a key player for the Indiana Pacers going forward. Jones is owned $2.7 million next season and he has a player option worth $2.9 million for the season after that, which he is almost certain to exercise. In other words, unless the Pacers trade him (very possible), Jones will be a Pacer until at least the end of the 2012-2012 season.
Thanks to former head coach Jim O’Brien, Jones fell out of the Pacers rotation early in the season, playing one game then sitting out a few, playing 20 minutes one night and 4 the next. Typical O’Brien. As a result, Jones played had only played 10 games up until February 2011. When Frank Vogel took over, Jones started getting more regular minutes as a reserve, and he was solid but not producing much on the offensive end.
For the season, Jones played in 45 games, starting in just 2, and averaged 13.1 minutes, 6.3 points, 1.4 rebounds and 0.7 assists. To put those numbers in perspective, Jones played in 76 games last season, starting in 26, and averaged 24.9 minutes, 10.2 rebounds and 3 rebounds and 2 assists. A big step back but not entirely Jones’s fault. What was Jones’s fault was his tendency to get a little trigger happy when he received some rare minutes. Perhaps in an attempt to bolster his playing time, Jones did come off as somewhat selfish at times.
During his time out of the rotation, Jones remained a consummate professional along with TJ Ford. They kept working hard in practice and remained in shape and were ready when called upon. One marked improvement this season was Jones’s 3-point shooting. Last season he shot an abysmal 0.125 from beyond the arc. This season? A much more respectable 0.359.
In the playoffs, Jones fared a little better, even though he only played in 3 of the 5 games. He averaged 8.7 points in 16.7 minutes per game.
Nonetheless, Jones’s inability to shoot the ball on a consistent basis was what prevented him from getting more minutes. And while Jones was one of the best perimeter defenders on the team, the generously listed 6’6″ player was at times too slow to defend the quicker guards and too small to guard the bigger forwards. He is a decent slasher, but not a great one, and while he is athletic, he is not a supreme athlete. In other words, Jones is good in a few areas but not great at any, which makes him at best a utility player off the bench.
It’s no secret that the Pacers would love to package Jones in a trade for a big, preferably young, athletic power forward. Of course, if such a deal could be done easily, it would have happened already. As a 30-year-old guard/forward who can’t shoot particularly well, Jones is not exactly a player coveted by other teams. That said, even if the Pacers can’t find a trade for Jones, it doesn’t hurt too much having him around.
With the backcourt clogged up by Collison, Price, Stephenson, George, Rush and now George Hill, and with Granger taking up the bulk of the minutes at small forward, there really isn’t much of a future for Jones in Indiana. If Rush is traded and Stephenson doesn’t play, Jones could still get a few minutes here and there as a third string player, but at this stage of his career it wouldn’t be fair to him.