Good for the Rightful Big East Player of the Year. He has a home, albeit temporarily, sort of a lease-to-own arrangement, in the NBA with the Cleveland Cavaliers. I think he’s earned that much, especially after the events of last week. Draft night was brutal for Jones and his family and those promises either extended to or exaggerated by his agent, or both, were empty in the end.
There were head-scratching, chin-rubbing signs before all that. Jones spoke to one reporter before the draft and otherwise let his well-intended brother and agent do the pre-draft work. The workouts were of a lower profile, though there seemed to be an explanation. The agent spent the days before the draft making and taking calls and explaining the pre-draft promise, which became pre-draft promises. He seemed to couch everything — team with a first-round pick, as opposed to a first-round promise, for example — and maybe that was honest, but maybe it was a tactic.
Really, Jones got a lot of buzz before the draft based on this alleged/actual pre-draft promise. Google him. Most of the stories before the draft are about that promise, as opposed to there being no way a player of his talent escapes the first round or isn’t taken at all. He had people talking and trust that that included NBA people. So the agent did his job there.
I had an NBA person tell me last week this isn’t uncommon and said person actually thought there was a team. He named the team. It made sense. But he also said to watch out for pre-draft moves and how those could be used as a net, of sorts. I figured he meant trades that would shuffle a roster and ruffle the promise, but the day before the draft there came a report the Indiana Pacers were the team that made the promise, but the Indiana Pacers were also making waves with some front office moves. And there, I thought, was the net.
So Jones went undrafted. I didn’t watch it and I wasn’t surprised when I later learned he wasn’t taken, but I was surprised by some who were and by the amount of international players who went in a year that was supposed to be thin for international players. But, hey, that’s the way the second round has evolved. You invest in an unknown commodity and leave yourself some flexibility. If a Jones is around in free agency after the draft, make a minimal commitment and hope for the best.
So Jones will sign a three-year deal July 11. It guarantees a little money — generally a fraction of an annual salary — and guarantees no time. The truth is the Cavaliers did like Jones and got with him soon after the draft because they had to think in such terms after trading two picks. So that’s good.
But the Cavaliers also have basically three players for two spots: Jones, Luke Harangody and Luke Walton. Harangody is a restricted free agent who has already been extended an offer and he’s a better scorer and shooter. Walton is a veteran, a solid guy to have on such a young team, and he’s got a guaranteed contract, though it could be bought out if the situation warrants it. Jones will go to the summer league and audition hard and probably do well, but he still has work to do.