WALTHAM, Mass. – Perry Jones III is back with the Boston Celtics after attending the funeral of a family member.
Before he left, the 6-foot-10 forward was on a mission to earn a roster spot with the Celtics who have 16 players with guaranteed contracts, a group that includes himself.
The 16 guaranteed contracts is one more than the NBA maximum.
And now that he’s back, Jones continues to find himself on the outside, looking in.
The next week or so will go far in helping or hurting his chances of sticking with the Celtics who acquired him via trade from Oklahoma City during the offseason.
Although he only played seven minutes in Boston’s win over Olimpia Milano last week, Jones was on the floor long enough to register an offensive rating of 138.1 which is tops on the Celtics team.
In that game Jones had two points, two rebounds and an assist.
He didn’t get many minutes, but to his credit he made the most of his opportunity to play when it presented itself. And going forward, Jones said his plan the next couple of weeks is pretty simple.
“Show everything I can do, everything I know I can do, that I’m comfortable doing,” he said. “And just be myself. That’s all I can do.”
He joins an extremely crowded frontcourt that becomes even more congested if you count him in the equation.
Making matters even tougher for Jones to make the team is the fact that head coach Brad Stevens plans to use just four big men most nights despite having a roster that’s at least six-deep at the power forward/center positions.
“Whoever those four may be, may depend on the night, may depend on how they’re playing,” Stevens said prior to Monday’s practice. “May depend on who’s healthy. That’s a challenge with our team right now.”
Boston has started David Lee and Tyler Zeller in the frontcourt in each of the Celtics’ first two games. Coming off the bench in the frontcourt have been Amir Johnson, Kelly Olynyk, Jonas Jerebko and Jared Sullinger.
In addition to those big men, Celtics rookie Jordan Mickey has also shown signs of being able to contribute in spurts when called upon in the frontcourt.
Jones has played in just one preseason game for the Celtics, but don’t expect to see him waived anytime soon.
Boston swung a trade with Oklahoma City for him during the offseason, a deal they were open to making because of Jones’ tremendous upside.
Although he has the size and bulk to play power forward in the NBA, Jones has the talent and skills to play on the perimeter as well where his size creates major matchup problems for opponents.
However, his ability and actual production have never meshed which was why the Thunder were willing to give him away for nothing more than a heavily-conditioned second round pick that they’ll likely never see.
Stevens is well aware of what’s at stake for his players who are fighting for playing time at every position.
And they are doing their part to make sure Stevens’ final decision on who plays won’t be an easy one for him to make.
“All the guys in that mix have been great,” Stevens said. “Not only some of the time; all the time. They all have been really good about it. They all understand it. It is what it is.