Damian Jones, Warriors happy center was able to make it back this season

Damian Jones, Warriors happy center was able to make it back this season

OAKLAND - For weeks, Warriors rookie guard Jacob Evans has had a simple question for his injured teammate Damian Jones. 

"When you coming back?"

And for the last few weeks, Jones - who tore his left pectoral muscle more than six months ago - has given the same answer to Evans. 

"I don't know." 

The conversation changed 90 minutes before Golden State's 116-94 victory in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals over the Portland Trail Blazers when Evans posed the question once more. 

"Yo, I'm active," Jones, who finished with three points and a rebound in one minute, responded moments after getting the news from assistant coach Luke Loucks. 

For a team that's looking for reinforcement in the frontcourt, Jones could provide a push at just the right time for Golden State. 

"He's been working unbelievably hard and he's such a great kid," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "So it's nice to see DJ back on the floor." 

Late in an early season loss to the Detroit Pistons, Jones was battling for a rebound with big man Andre Drummond when his left arm got tangled, ripping apart his pectoral muscle. Hours after the injury, an MRI at nearby Henry Ford Hospital confirmed the tear, requiring surgery and sidelining him indefinitely. 

Jones had been through a similar shoulder rehabilitation before. Twelve days before the 2016 NBA Draft, he tore his right pectoral muscle following a bench pressing workout with the Orlando Magic. Despite getting selected 30th overall by the Warriors nearly two weeks later, his rookie season was all but gone. Two years later, even after the six-month recovery timeline, Jones remained confident he'd return this season. 

"I figured I'd be back in time," Jones told NBC Sports Bay Area. "But you don't know if you're going to play or not because you've been out of action for a while so just having that in mind. So I had to stay prepared while knowing I could be done for the year." 

Following the injury in December, Jones immediately began his rehab regimen, doing on-court workouts with his arm in a sling, maintaining his conditioning levels. By February, he began light shooting drills, performing hook shots just outside of five-feet. Last week, he was officially cleared for on-court live contact. Up until Tuesday's game, Jones' opponents were typically either Marcus Derrickson and Damion Lee, Golden State's two-way players, and a variation of Warriors assistant coaches Chris DeMarco, Jarron Collins and Loucks. 

"He was cleared, basically in the last couple of days," Kerr said. "As of shootaround today, we had declared him out because we sort of, in, that routine over the last several months, and when we got to the stadium, the training staff said he can go tonight. We had an extra roster spot because of our injuries and put him out there."

[RELATED: Why Warriors shouldn't look too far ahead]

For the Warriors - without starting center DeMarcus Cousins - Jones provides an athletic big man who can contribute. With 16 seconds left in game, Jones went baseline on Blazers forward Zach Collins, getting his first points in months, prompting an extended cheer from the bench. With the season coming to a close and frontcourt help needed, it's not impossible to see Jones trying the post move in meaningful minutes. For now, his teammates are content with just having him back in the fold. 

"It was good to see him back out there," Green said. "To see him get out there and get an opportunity to play tonight was key and I wouldn't be shocked if sometime in this series. He's thrown out there for some real minutes." 

Warriors owner Joe Lacob regrets 'Light Years' comment, but doubles down

Warriors owner Joe Lacob regrets 'Light Years' comment, but doubles down

Warriors owner Joe Lacob is a very bold individual.

In a March 2016 profile in The New York Times, Lacob made a comment that will be attached to him for a long time:

“We’re light years ahead of probably every other team in structure, in planning, in how we’re going to go about things. We’re going to be a handful for the rest of the N.B.A. to deal with for a long time.”

In a recent Time article, Lacob admitted that he regrets using "light years." But that doesn't mean he doesn't mean what he said.

“I mean, look, I’m a confident guy. I do believe in a lot of the things that we practice and do. I believe in the strategy that we have. I believe in our management team, which I think is the best in the business. I believe in the culture of our players which is built around Steph Curry — he’s a unique individual person, never mind basketball player.

And so you know I meant it in a bit of hyperbole. I didn’t mean it to put down other teams. So if you ask me the question do I believe it? Yes. But I say that not to put down other teams. I didn’t mean it to come out that way.”

Lacob does love playing blackjack and it certainly sounds like he's doubling down.

The Warriors won three of the last five titles and lost in the NBA Finals the other two seasons.

Golden State's CEO and the rest of the ownership group bought the Dubs for $450 million back in 2010. In February, Forbes valued the Warriors at $3.5 billion.

Pretty decent investment.

And to close the circle on the "light years" comment, Lacob added:

“By the way, all my friends in the business world, they were like, ‘Great article! Great story!’ And all the sports guys were like, ‘What an egomaniac.’

"So you learn from that.”

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NBA Draft: Best-ever No. 28 picks, where Warriors will select in 2019

NBA Draft: Best-ever No. 28 picks, where Warriors will select in 2019

The 2019 NBA Draft is upon us. 

On Thursday, teams will assemble to hopefully select players that will be integral parts of their franchise for years to come.

Draft night is an especially important time for Bob Myers and the Warriors.

After suffering a devastating NBA Finals loss to the Toronto Raptors that saw both Kevin Durant (Achilles) and Klay Thompson (ACL) go down with severe injuries, the Dubs are in need of players who can provide depth next season, something they were lacking against the Raptors.

Golden State has the No. 28 overall pick Thursday night, which historically hasn't been a goldmine of talent, but there have been a few good players (and one likely Hall of Famer) to be taken at that position.

Here's a look at the three best players produced by that draft slot. 

Tony Parker, PG, Spurs, 2001

The best player ever taken with the No. 28 overall pick is a no-brainer.

During his surefire Hall of Fame career, Parker was a cornerstone of the Spurs' run from the early 2000s through the 2014 NBA Finals. Parker was a six-time All-Star, four-time NBA champion and was named the 2007 NBA Finals MVP.

For his career, the electric guard averaged 15.5 points and 5.6 assists per game while shooting 49.1 percent from the field and accumulating a PER of 18.2. He retired after this past season where he played for the Charlotte Hornets, his only non-Spurs season. If the Warriors can find a diamond in the rough like Parker, they won't be down on the mat for long.

Dan Roundfield, PF, Pacers, 1975

Dr. Rounds could straight up hoop. 

The 6-foot-8 power forward was a three-time All-Star and five-time All-Defense selection. He played six years with the Atlanta Hawks, when he was at his peak, averaging 13.5 points per game and 10.7 rebounds while in the ATL.

For his career, Roundfield averaged 14.3 points and 9.3 rebounds while shooting 48.2 percent from the field.

Leandro Barbosa, G, Spurs, 2003

The rich history of great picks at No. 28 ends with Parker, but Barbosa was a solid role player during his NBA career, as Warriors fans know.

During his 15-year NBA career, Barbosa was a key piece of the six-seconds-or-less Suns and a major role player for the 2015 NBA champion Warriors.

For his career, Barbosa averaged 10.6 points on 45.6 percent shooting. He was named Sixth Man of the Year in the 2006-07 campaign. He's exactly the type of player the Warriors hope to find Thursday night.

Honorable mentions: Tiago Splitter, C, Spurs (2007); Greg Ostertag, C, Jazz (1995); Wayne Ellington, SG, Timberwolves (2009; Dan Dickau, PG, Kings (2002).

[RELATED: Best-ever No. 58 picks, where Dubs select in Round 2]

The Warriors are in need of depth and the draft is a good way to find it. But at No. 28 overall, the Warriors will have to do their homework on all their potential options.