Damian Jones’ trip to Nashville’s Pancake Pantry last week was delayed by a call from his agent.
The banana-bread pancakes would have to wait.
The call informed Jones he had been traded to the Hawks, ending his limited three-year tenure with the Warriors. The center would get a fresh start after appearing in a total of 49 career games, including last season that was cut short by a torn left pectoral muscle.
“I haven’t really gotten a chance to show what I can do,” Jones said Friday at his introductory news conference. “… I still have more to prove.”
Jones, 24, began last season as the Warriors starting center, with DeMarcus Cousins on the mend from a torn Achilles tendon. However, just 24 games in, he suffered the injury. It was one Jones was all too familiar with after he tore his right pectoral muscle lifting weights during his pre-draft work in 2016. He returned last to play four games in the postseason as the Warriors fell short in the NBA Finals to the Raptors, denying Jones a third championship ring.
Former Hawks center Al Horford also tore each pectoral muscle during his career.
Jones, 7-foot, 245 pounds, averaged 5.4 points and 3.1 rebounds last season before the injury. He played only 10 games his rookie season and 15 games his second season.
The Hawks acquired Jones in the deal that sent Omari Spellman to the Warriors. The Hawks also got a future second-round pick as general manager Travis Schlenk begins to restock his assets.
“I thought it would be a fresh start for me,” Jones said of the trade. “I brought that perspective.”
Jones said he is 100 percent recovered from the injury and is ready to play any role the Hawks have for him. He sees himself as providing rim protection, defense and being a lob option for point guard Trae Young.
There is a championship pedigree with Jones after he’s played alongside Steph Curry and Kevin Durant – well, and those two rings. He said he learned plenty from the two superstars during his tenure. But now, Jones is joining a young team, still in the middle of a rebuild. There is promise, but a trip to the NBA Finals is no longer the forgone conclusion it was with Golden State.
“You still want to attack every day as hard as possible,” Jones said. “Just keep on going. Just having that winning culture carries you a long way.”
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