NBA Sunday: Jones Contemplating Retirement
With All-Star weekend and the trade deadline now in the rearview mirror the latter portion of the NBA season is about championship contending teams rounding into form and lottery bound squads heavily investing in their young talent.
The defending champion Miami HEAT are currently on a ten game winning streak and are the favorites of many to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy once again at the end of this season.
For tenth year veteran forward James Jones, the 2011 three-point contest champion, another championship ring on his mantle could possibly signal the end of his playing career. Jones has battled injuries throughout his career but says he’s fine physically. Ultimately, the decision to hang up the high tops may come down to a desire of going out on top.
“I feel good this year,” Jones told HOOPSWORLD. “I’m not playing as much, so physically I feel good. I feel better than I have the last couple of seasons. Right now I‘m concerned with winning a championship this year and if we win it this year [retirement] will be a great conversation to have.”
Jones nearly retired last summer but ultimately decided to remain in Miami. Jones, who has a player option for the 2013-14 season, said retirement, was truly a serious consideration after the HEAT won the title in 2012.
“There was,” Jones said confirming the retirement reports from last summer. “Last year it was a serious consideration. It was one of those things where you understand that you’re at your peak and physically after a grueling season like that your mind tells you a lot of things but your body speaks to you differently. So after having a summer to recover and heal from my various injuries, I felt good physically and I wanted to give it another chance.”
Jones is playing a career-low 4.2 minutes per game this season and has logged an appearance in just 21 contests to date. Jones admits to wanting to play a larger role but understands his role and the team’s rotation.
“It’s bittersweet,” Jones said. “I’ve been blessed to be on a team who is very competitive with some of the world’s best talent. So evidently there are not as many minutes for me. But I’m a pro and you know there’s not much you can do when you say you’re playing behind future Hall of Famers.”
The HEAT own the league’s second best record and if there is a weakness it is the club’s inability to win consistently on the road (16-11) this season. Jones says the team’s goal for the rest of the season is to improve their road performances, namely beating playoff bound teams on their home court.
“Anytime you get a chance to perform well on the road against a playoff team you have to take it,” Jones said. “Because in order for us to achieve what we want which is a NBA championship we have to win road games. At some point you have to dig deep and rely on your experience and executions in tough situations.”
Jones also refutes the notion the HEAT were suffering from a championship hangover earlier this season, while also adding the trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are focused on strengthening their legacies as players.
“I don’t think so,” Jones said on if the team was suffering from a title hangover early on. “I think it depends on the group of guys but more importantly we have consistency. We’ve added a couple pieces this year but for the most part our main core is still intact and our guys are extremely motivated.”
“We don’t have guys at the end of their careers in our big three who are looking to win a championship and fade off into the sunset,” Jones added. “We have guys trying to build their legacy, trying to be historic and make history. So it makes it easier for us to lock in and focus.”
Jones has career averages of 5.8 points which also includes stints in Indiana, Phoenix and Portland. Jones is a career 40 percent shooter from three-point range, which ranks him 32nd on the all-time list.
Eric Maynor Adjusting To New Role In Portland
The Oklahoma City Thunder haven’t exactly been shy about flipping their young talent for outside assets before they’re set to hit the free agency market. Celtics forward Jeff Green and Rockets guard James Harden are the prime examples but reserve guard Eric Maynor is the latest.
Maynor was dealt at the trade deadline by the Thunder to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for the rights to Greek player Georgios Printezis. Maynor, in his first season back from a torn ACL, had been losing minutes to Reggie Jackson in Oklahoma City as the campaign progressed.
Oklahoma City owns the league’s third best record, while Portland is currently on a seven game losing streak and sees its playoff hopes slowly slipping away. Maynor admits hearing the news was tough to swallow at first, but is excited for his new opportunity in Portland.
“It was tough, but it’s a business,” Maynor said to Mike Tokito of the Oregonian. “You talk to all those guys when you leave, and it was like we started something special over there, and some stuff comes to an end. But I’m excited to be in Portland now.”
“I’m looking forward to it, coming in here and playing with a good bunch of guys,” Maynor added. “They’ve got a great coaching staff. I’m looking forward to the minutes. I’m looking forward to playing.”
The Blazers will likely issue Maynor a qualifying offer at the end of the season which will make the fourth year guard a restricted free agent this summer and give the team the right to match any offer received for his services.
For now, Maynor doesn’t want to focus on his pending free agency.
“I think I’m going to cross that (bridge) later,” Maynor said. “I think just concentrate on the rest of this season. Hopefully, maybe we can get something done.”
Once Maynor is fully acclimated to the Blazers’ schemes it is expected he will assume the primary reserve point guard role behind Rookie of the Year frontrunner Damian Lillard.
Sixers’ Gamble On Bynum Not Paying Off
The Philadelphia 76ers were just one game away from reaching the Eastern Conference Finals last season, pushing the veteran laden Boston Celtics to seven games in the second round. Not wanting to rest on that success, the Sixers’ front office swung for the fences by acquiring All-Star center Andrew Bynum from the Los Angeles Lakers in a deal last summer.
Fast forward, the Sixers are nine games below .500 this season and in the midst of a four game losing streak. More importantly, Bynum has yet to play a game since arriving to the city of brotherly love due to bone bruises in his knees.
Bynum managed to practice with his teammates on Friday for just the first time since the team acquired him last summer. Bynum’s appearance didn’t exactly impress head coach Doug Collins.
“He looked like a guy who hadn’t played in nine months,” Collins said according to an ESPN report. “I don’t think any bells and whistles should be sent off that he’s close to playing.”
“It’s amazing seeing him standing out there; he distorted the whole practice,” Collins added. “You get visions of what might’ve been … He’s said that he’s going to play, but this season is slipping away. We’ve got 24 games after (this weekend).”
Bynum averaged 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per game last season in 60 games with the Los Angeles Lakers. Most believed the center would be ready for action before the All-Star break but recurring setbacks in his knee rehabilitation have led to some questioning whether he’ll play this season at all.
Bynum will be an unrestricted free agent this summer leaving the Sixers’ front office with a difficult decision to make regarding his long term future with the organization.
Up Close With Tyreke Evans: Sacramento Kings guard Tyreke Evans managed to stick with the team past the deadline after being mentioned in some rumors, but rookie forward Thomas Robinson does not and he voices his frustration about that and talks about the state of the Kings overall in the video interview below.br> br>