The Phoenix Suns Should Pursue Terrence Jones

Dec 20, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Terrence Jones (9) reacts to his score against the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half at Wells Fargo Center. The New Orleans Pelicans won 108-93. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 20, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Terrence Jones (9) reacts to his score against the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half at Wells Fargo Center. The New Orleans Pelicans won 108-93. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

In the middle of a youth movement, what better opportunity to more fully dedicate themselves to such a plan than signing a 25-year old power forward with the potential to be a solid role player for the foreseeable future?

Following the acquisition of DeMarcus Cousins, the New Orleans Pelicans had to make a decision regarding their rotation:

To keep, or not to keep Terrance Jones.

Terrence Jones in the Past:

Selected with the 18th overall pick in the 2012 draft, coming out of college Jones was known for his explosive leaping ability and quickness for a player his size – 6’9″. In the Shawn Marion mold, he wasn’t going to destroy the opposition with a particularly eccentric set of skills. He is able to slice through the lane off of pick-and-rolls, hit open jumpers, and grab a lot of garbage scoring off of put backs.

Starting in 71 games his second season for the Houston Rockets, Jones averaged 12. points, 6.9 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks – well on his way to becoming a very effective rotational player who could fill up the stat sheet almost un-noticably.

However he stats slowly dwindled and his playing time decreased – although his per-36 numbers stayed well within a relative window.

For Phoenix, in 2015 the Markieff Morris debacle was a rampant headline-getter, and trade rumors circulated surrounding Houston who was tabbed as one of the early rumored destinations for Morris.

To Suns fans at that time it did not appear that Ryan McDonough would be able to swing a trade for a first-round pick and so the prospect of a young, athletic, power forward in Jones seemed like a very reasonable return. From the perspective of most in the Valley of the Suns, no one was going to want a cancer like Markieff, so getting Jones in return seemed like a steal.

In the end, Suns fans were pleasantly surprised when McDonough was able to acquire a first-round pick from Washington for Morris which he was later able to flip for Marquese Chriss, keeping Jones in Houston for the remainder of 2015-16.

However, Houston was far from enamored with Jones’ un-inspiring growth and after only four seasons, when his rookie contract expired, they let him walk. In July 2016 the New Orleans Pelicans took a flyer and signed Jones to a veterans minimum contract, hoping to catch lighting in a bottle.

Terrence Jones in the Present:

For a player on a one-year ‘prove-it’ type of contract, Jones did far from exceed expectations. Although he as averaged 11.5 points and 5.9 rebounds, he failed to ever consistently break into the New Orleans Pelicans’ starting lineup only starting in 11 games prior to the All-Star break.

Then, immediately following the All-Star game, Jones’ future in New Orleans was sealed: the Pelicans traded for DeMarcus Cousins, and all chances for Jones to regularly break into the starting lineup, or retain any significant rotational time, was over.

Prior to the trade for Cousins, the Pelicans had attempted to trade Jones, but for a player seemingly destined to be nothing more than a dime-a-dozen forward – one who was hardly performing at a level that would impress a general manager enough to trade anyone or anything of significance – the Pelicans were unable to find a trade partner and waived Jones to offer him the best opportunity to find a situation with the opportunity to play with more regularity.

Terrence Jones in the Future:

Maybe in 2015 Ryan McDonough knew that he could get a first-round pick for Markieff, and/or

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  • maybe he saw something in Terrance Jones that he didn’t like and knew that he was nothing special worth trading for.

    However, today, McDonough has another opportunity to add the young, athletic, forward to the core of young, growing, athletic players. Following the New Orleans Pelicans waiving of Jones, he has since passed safely through waivers and is now free to sign with the team of his choice (at least one of those willing to sign him).

    Should a team in a playoff push want him, he could be a great addition to a bench adding depth for the playoff grind. With that path, though, there is no guarantee of his long-term future as he would likely be looked upon as a rental player may not ever break into that team’s regular rotation as it is.

    But if he were to chose a team like the Phoenix Suns, he could be given an opportunity to play out this year, and sign another ‘prove-it’ contract for next season with the chance to grow as part of the Suns’ future.

    Why Sign Terrence Jones:

    For starters, Terrance Jones would come cheap for the rest of this season. Already only on a $1.05M contract, pro-rated for the final 23 games he would cost pennies on the dollar. Plus with the recent acquisition and subsequent releases of Mike Scott and Jared Sullinger, even after the signing of Ronnie Price for the rest of the season, there is an open spot on the roster for Jones. If the Suns are going with the youth movement from here on out and do not plan on playing Tyson Chandler, Chandler could easily become, and remain, inactive allowing Jones receives time on the court to develop a rapport with the roster and franchise and work to earn a roster spot on next year’s team.

    Secondly, he’s still only 25-years old. Should he prove himself worthy over the last month of the season and worth re-signing in the off-season, he will be about as productive a player off the bench in the small forward/power forward position as anyone the Suns could possibly sign as it is.

    Even if they were to sign him to a three-year $20M (an extremely over-priced deal) it would only take the trade of the older Jared Dudley to make Jones fit into the Suns’ financial plans. There had been speculation near the trade deadline that Dudley was at least offered around for trade, although the Suns didn’t find any takers. So to speculate that Dudley would be back on the trade block in the off-season would be reasonable.

    Also, even though he does not play the same position, Alex Len and Terrence Jones’ statistics are not that  far distant from one another. Per 36-minutes this season, Jones averaged over three points more than Len, although Len averaged three rebounds more than Jones. The two shoot very similarly from the field (right at 50%) although Jones is developing an outside game that while it is below average to extremely average at the moment, could easily develop over the next year or two into a decent weapon for him.

    Add in the apparently unlimited possibilities of Alan Williams and not only might the Suns not need  to re-sign Len this off-season opening up a long-term roster spot that way, but the presumed savings from not entertaining such a potentially large contractual demand for Len would easily open up the space under the salary cap to make room for a player like Jones. (Of course the Suns could entertain a sign-and-trade for Len bringing in additional players, but there is also the possibility that Phoenix looks only to acquire draft pick compensation keeping a roster spot open).

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    Terrence Jones and Phoenix Suns Outcome:

    It would not hurt the Suns to sign Jones for the remainder of the season, especially at the price that he would cost. In fact, he could actually hurt  the Suns by being an extremely un-productive player and help to further guarantee a top-3 pick in the draft this summer – although even if he played well, chances are he wouldn’t be good enough to too positively effect the outcome of games and Phoenix would remain on their current high lottery trajectory anyway.

    Should he warm himself to Suns management, he could be re-signed at a very affordable rate and be a nice tweenter player behind T.J. Warren, Marquese Chriss, and Dragan Bender. Furthermore, if he was able to continue his per-36 minutes production and the Suns do not find their superstar through trade this off-season, he could easily be a piece that could be packaged as part of a trade during next regular season (his stats are eerily similar to Tim Perry‘s at this point in his career…)

    Therefore, if Ryan McDonough did at all covet him one year ago, he might as well give him a shot this year, and see what Terrence Jones can bring to the Phoenix Suns over their final 23 games.