Why Damian Jones believes trade to Hawks will be 'great opportunity'

Why Damian Jones believes trade to Hawks will be 'great opportunity'

Damian Jones exited Sacramento's Golden 1 Center last week with a set of goals entering the summer: Finish a degree in chemical engineering from Vanderbilt, rectify an injury-riddled start to his career and enter a contract year for the Warriors in "attack mode."

The latter objective won't come to fruition as Jones was traded, along with a second-round draft pick, to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for second-year big man Omari Spellman Monday afternoon, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported through league sources.   

"I think it will be a great opportunity," Jones told NBC Sports Bay Area shortly after the trade. "It's a great young team and I think I'll be able to fit right in." 

The move reunites Jones with Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk, who was in the Warriors front office when Golden State drafted Jones No. 30 overall in the 2016 NBA draft.

The trade of Jones comes just a week after the Warriors signed Willie Cauley-Stein to a contract slightly above the veteran's minimum, which was agreed upon as Jones participated in the California Classic in Sacramento.

"I know that was always a possibility," Jones said. "I was just expecting that anything could happen." 

While his physical attributes marvel, injuries have undermined a promising young career. Twelve days before the 2016 NBA Draft, Jones tore his right pectoral muscle during a pre-draft workout with the Orlando Magic. With his rookie season all but lost, he toiled in the G-League in his second year, averaging 15 points and 5.8 rebounds per game for the Santa Cruz Warriors. 

Though he won the Warriors’ starting center in training camp 10 months ago, Jones again tore his pectoral in a Dec. 1 loss to the Detroit Pistons. While he returned during the playoffs, Jones struggled against the high-level playoff competition. He averaged just 0.8 points and two minutes in five games, prompting another appearance with the Warriors’ summer league team at his request. 

"It was kind of rocky, with the injury and things," Jones said. "But you know, just take it for what it is, and take it as a stepping stone."

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Now, Jones will enter the next phase of his career alongside a young core in Atlanta led by point guard Trae Young, who averaged 19.1 points and 8.1 assists in his rookie season. Most NBA observers see the Hawks as a team on the rise. With Jones, a Baton Rouge, Louisiana native, in the fold, a chance to revitalize his career awaits. 

"I mean, it's a good city. I think it's going to be very interesting being there," Jones said. "It's closer to home. And then it's in the South, so I think it'll be great."

Warriors' Steve Kerr says trade rumors don't affect D'Angelo Russell

Warriors' Steve Kerr says trade rumors don't affect D'Angelo Russell

D'Angelo Russell is rapidly approaching a date some NBA observers have circled since the Warriors acquired him this summer.

Golden State can trade Russell as soon as Sunday, Dec. 15, and the 23-year-old has been the source of trade speculation during his time in the Bay Area. The Athletic's Jon Krawczynski reported Wednesday, citing sources that the Minnesota Timberwolves "remain interested in Russell" and that the guard "seems to be realistic in understanding that he may not be long for the Warriors once Steph Curry and Klay Thompson return to full health."

Russell is averaging a career-high 22.4 points per game this season to go with 6.1 assists and 3.1 rebounds, serving as the top offensive option in the absence of his All-Star teammates. He knew he wouldn't play much with Thompson this season as he recovers from a torn ACL, but Curry's broken hand threw a wrench into the Warriors' -- and thus Russell's -- prospects this season. Warriors coach Steve Kerr praised how Russell has handled the rumors surrounding him. 

"Money doesn't buy peace of mind," Kerr said Friday morning (H/T San Francisco Chronicle's Connor Letourneau). "It doesn't buy a sense of belonging, a sense of, 'Alright, this is my team.' If there's speculation that you're going to be traded all the time, I don't care how much money you make, I don't care who you are. That's tough. That's no fun to deal with, and this season has been nowhere close to what D'Angelo thought it would be when he first signed with us.

"There's no Steph. We're struggling to win games. He's had his own injuries, and we're throwing all kinds of different lineups out there based on the other injuries we've faced." 

Russell has played in just 15 of the Warriors' 27 games this season, playing on a team that looks far more like the Los Angeles Lakers of his first two seasons than the playoff-contending Brooklyn Nets a year ago -- let alone the reigning Western Conference champion Warriors. 

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Kerr, who entered this season with the highest winning percentage in NBA history (.785), is as aware of Golden State's dramatically different reality as anyone. He said it has only brought out the best in Russell. 

"So given all that, he's played really well, and he's been a great teammate and he's doing everything he needs to do to solidify his position here," Kerr continued. "But this is the NBA here, and we never know what's coming, what's happening. So, it's a difficult position to be in in general, but for him in particular it's strange set of circumstances and he's handling it really well." 

Whether or not the Warriors trade Russell, it's clear Kerr holds him in high regard.

Watch Warriors' Ky Bowman dominate for Santa Cruz in G League debut

Watch Warriors' Ky Bowman dominate for Santa Cruz in G League debut

Warriors two-way guard Ky Bowman made his G League debut Friday night in Santa Cruz.

He dominated the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario. 

The Boston College product could have scored 40 points if he really wanted to, but he picked his spots and made sure his teammates were getting good looks.

After shootaround in Utah on Friday, Warriors coach Steve Kerr was asked what Bowman can work on while he's with the Sea Dubs.

"He's got a really aggressive mindset -- which I like -- but there are still circumstances and situations where he needs to think more pass," Kerr said. "And more strategic, rather than just score, score, score."

Bowman clearly listened to the eight-time NBA champion.

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Also, "Sky Bowman" was on full display.

The 22-year-old will be back in action Sunday afternoon as Santa Cruz faces the Northern Arizona Suns. Watch the game at 2:00 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area.

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