Warriors couldn't wait any longer for Damian Jones to prove himself

Warriors couldn't wait any longer for Damian Jones to prove himself

He’s funny, intelligent, likable, athletically gifted and leaving.

After three years, the Warriors no longer were willing to wait for Damian Jones the tremendous athlete to become a reliable basketball player.

Not when they could trade the 7-foot center for a potentially better player, while also getting some financial breathing room.

On Monday morning, Jones was sent, along with a 2026 second-round draft pick, to the Hawks for 6-9 forward/center Omari Spellman. The Warriors selected Jones with the 30th overall pick in the 2016 draft. Atlanta chose Spellman at No. 30 in the 2018 draft.

The Warriors knew from the start that Jones, a Vanderbilt product, would be a project. He’s a terrific vertical spacer, able to gobble and jam lobs 20 inches above the rim.

He also was prone to biting on pump fakes and committing fouls in bunches. What doomed him more than anything else, though, was a lack of court awareness. On a team with so many players having a sense of space and timing and anticipation, Jones stood out for having little of any. There was nothing to indicate he would change.

So off he goes to Atlanta, closer to his native Louisiana, where he will reunite with Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk, who was hired away from the Warriors front office 11 months after the team drafted Jones.

Spellman also is reuniting with a familiar face. He was a star at Villanova, where he was teammates with current Warriors rookie Eric Paschall on the 2018 national championship team.

Just as Jones is a work in progress, so is Spellman. The difference, however, is that Spellman’s biggest hurdle is conditioning. Listed at 260 pounds in college, he conceded that his weight reached 293 over the holidays before he lost 22 pounds under the watchful eye of a Hawks staff that includes former Warriors fitness chief Chelsea Lane.

Put simply, Spellman as a rookie ate his way out of an opportunity – and to the G-League.

But Spellman, who turns 22 this month, has undeniable skills. He has a smooth stroke that extends beyond the arc. He’s suited to the pick-and-pop game. He’s a solid rebounder. His $1.9 million salary also is $400,000 less than that of Jones.

If he can keep his weight under control, he’s capable of contributing in his first season as a Warrior.

With his arrival and the departure of Jones, more than half the roster of the 2018-19 Warriors roster has been flipped.

[RELATED: Why Jones believes he has a "great opportunity" with the Hawks]

Jones is the fourth big man and eighth member to leave this summer. Center DeMarcus Cousins has signed with the Lakers, center/forward Jordan Bell if off to the Timberwolves and center Andrew Bogut went back into retirement/free agency.

Also gone: forward Kevin Durant (to the Nets), forward/guard Andre Iguodala (Grizzlies), guard Quinn Cook (Lakers) and forward Jonas Jerebko is on the market.

A ninth player, veteran guard Shaun Livingston remains on the roster but likely will retire. 

Warriors' Rick Welts only has one box score framed in his office

Warriors' Rick Welts only has one box score framed in his office

Rick Welts has seen a lot of basketball over the years. But one single performance stands out above the rest.

The Warriors' team president and chief operating officer was asked Wednesday morning on 95.7 The Game: "Quarantine game -- if you're stuck indoors for a full year, one TV, one game playing on a loop, 24/7, 365 -- what game is Rick Welts taking?"

The Hall of Famer provided a definitive answer:

"Let's see. Michael Jordan. Magic Johnson. Larry Bird. Actually not even a close call for me. I only have one box score framed in my office -- if I ever get to see my office again -- and that's Klay's 37-point quarter. Without a doubt -- the most amazing thing I've ever seen on a basketball court.

"I could never get tired of watching it. He was out of his mind. I'm not sure we'll ever see anything like that again. And the crowd was a big part of it because he reacted every time the crowd reacted. Our bench was insane.

"Everybody in the building knew they were seeing history being made."

Listen and subscribe to the Runnin' Plays Podcast:

In the third quarter of the Warriors' win over the Sacramento Kings on Jan. 23, 2015, Klay Thompson went 13-for-13 overall, 9-for-9 from deep and 2-for-2 from the free throw line.

Very good choice, Mr. Welts.

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What sporing event Warriors' Jordan Poole will miss watching most

What sporing event Warriors' Jordan Poole will miss watching most

Warriors rookie Jordan Poole has many interests outside of basketball.

If you follow him on Instagram, you know that he loves cats.

The 20-year-old enjoys watching movies and TV shows, and generally considers himself a homebody.

Poole also likes other sports, and when Wes Goldberg of the Bay Area News Group asked him which canceled or postponed sporting events he is going to miss, the Michigan product provided an answer that might surprise you.

"I love watching the college World Series, I definitely like watching softball as well," he said. "March Madness was going to be cool of course, but that’s basketball. The college World Series is something sports-related that I was really looking forward to."

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How did Poole get into college baseball?

"I would watch the games when we were in school (at Michigan), go support my guys on the team, but I was really locked into the World Series," he answered. "Those games get pretty rowdy."

[RELATED: Paschall reveals Warriors teammate he'd quarantine with now]

Last year, Michigan reached the College World Series for the first time since 1984.

The Wolverines advanced all the way to the championship best-of-three series -- winning Game 1 before dropping the next two to Vanderbilt.

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