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."

[RELATED: Warriors reportedly add Alec Burks]

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' Steph Curry continues activism with police brutality protest

Warriors' Steph Curry continues activism with police brutality protest

On the corner of Perkins and Grand in Oakland, Warriors guard Stephen Curry put both of his hands up and spoke a sentence black folks have been chanting for much of their American existence. 

"Hands up!" Curry yelled amongst fellow protestors near Oakland's Lake Merritt. "Don't shoot!"

On the same block, Curry took a knee in protest of police brutality that has crippled Black America. The image was a reminder of the activist Curry has become off the court in recent years.

His latest act came in the wake of George Floyd's tragic death in Minneapolis police custody. Floyd -- a 46-year-old Black male -- died after officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Floyd was detained after allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill and resisting arrest, although nearby security cameras showed he didn't resist. In his final moments, Floyd could be heard screaming, "I can't breathe" and "mama." 

The killing has inspired protests all over the world. Wednesday's protest -- organized by Curry's teammate Juan Toscano Anderson -- drew an estimated 300 people to walk around Lake Merritt. Fellow Warriors Klay Thompson and Damion Lee also attended the protest.

The location of Curry's kneel is noteworthy. Lake Merritt is situated three miles away from North Oakland, where the Black Panther Party was formed. A mile away from the intersection Curry kneeled, the Panthers started the free breakfast program for kids. For much of its history, Oakland has been the country's epicenter for change and Curry was a part of the latest iteration. 

Social causes aren't new for the guard. Last summer, Curry financed the creation of the Howard University golf program. With his contribution, the Bison men's team will play in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, while the women will play as independents. In addition, he outfitted them all in Under Armour apparel -- the shoe company that sponsors him -- and funded three scholarships for the school. 

In 2014, before Game 5 of Golden State's first-round playoff series against the Clippers, Curry was among a group of players ready to boycott if Clippers owner Donald Sterling wasn't banned by NBA commissioner Adam Silver following leaked racist remarks. Three years later, he said President Donald Trump's words were rooted in "racism" after he criticized LeBron James' intelligence in a tweet. Curry even spoke out against Under Armour in 2017, after CEO Kevin Plank called Trump an "asset" to the United States.

“If there is a situation where I can look at myself in the mirror and say they don’t have my best intentions, they don’t have the right attitude about taking care of people,” Curry told The Mercury News in 2017. “If I can say the leadership is not in line with my core values, then there is no amount of money, there is no platform I wouldn’t jump off if it wasn’t in line with who I am. So that’s a decision I will make every single day when I wake up. If something is not in line with what I’m about, then, yeah, I definitely need to take a stance in that respect.”

Curry's latest act comes on the same day New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees doubled down on his take that athletes shouldn't kneel during the national anthem. 

[RELATED: Poole: Brees reveals he's part of problem, not solution]

Brees' comments are a common retort for an uninformed person of privilege. Feigning patriotism behind the flag while ignoring why Colin Kaepernick and Curry kneeled in the first place. Disregarding that Kaepernick consulted a green beret before his demonstration and kneeled in respect for the anthem. Brees' stance, like that of many other similar public figures, is lazy, ignorant and dangerous. 

Curry, unlike Brees, will be on the right side of history at his current pace. 

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Steph Curry among Warriors at Juan Toscano-Anderson's Oakland protest

Steph Curry among Warriors at Juan Toscano-Anderson's Oakland protest

How did Warriors superstar Steph Curry spend his Wednesday afternoon?

He took part in a peaceful protest against police brutality and systemic racism at Lake Merritt in Oakland.

Curry and his wife, Ayesha, kneeled during the protest.

Juan Toscano-Anderson, an Oakland native and Warriors forward, organized the event.

"No matter the color of your skin, where you're from, how much money you got -- it doesn't matter," Toscano-Anderson said to those who gathered. "We're all human beings. We're all here for the same purpose.

"Right now, it's about black people. But for humanity, there's people all over the world being oppressed. We're just trying to take a step in the right direction."

[RELATED: Brees still believes kneeling is 'disrespecting the flag']

Additional members of the Warriors arrived after the walk began.

Protests around the country continue in response to George Floyd's tragic death last week while in police custody in Minneapolis.