The Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly set to allow center Damian Jones to become a free agent.
According to Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times, the Lakers had the option of signing Jones for the remainder of the season after his second 10-day contract expired but decided not to because of the hard salary cap and roster limitations.
In eight games with the Lakers, including , the 25-year-old Damian Jones averaged 5.4 points and 3.3 rebounds in 14 minutes per contest.
Jones was solid as a fill-in with Anthony Davis out recovering from Achilles and calf injuries, and Marc Gasol missing time because of health and safety protocols.
The former Vanderbilt standout was the No. 30 overall pick by the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA draft, and he went on to win two championships in three seasons with the Dubs.
Jones then put up career numbers last season as a member of the Atlanta Hawks, averaging 5.6 points and 3.7 rebounds in 55 games.
He has played in 22 games this season, including 14 with the Phoenix Suns, averaging 3.0 points and 2.0 rebounds.
Davis is still on the shelf, but Gasol is eligible to return, which may be why the Lakers decided to part ways with Damian Jones.
Also, L.A. has been linked to Cleveland Cavaliers center Andre Drummond ahead of Thursday’s NBA trade deadline, and letting Jones go may be a sign that it intends to go hard after the two-time All-Star and four-time rebounding champion.
The Lakers are set to be without superstar LeBron James for an indefinite amount of time as well after he suffered a high ankle sprain Saturday, which could be part of the motivation not to re-sign Jones and instead pursue a bigger name.
Los Angeles is in a difficult position with its top two players out injured, but it is still in the thick of the race for the No. 1 seed, occupying third place in the Western Conference at 28-14 and 2.5 games behind the first-place Utah Jazz.
As for Jones, he shouldn’t have much of a problem landing elsewhere thanks to his age, good size (6’11”) and championship-winning experience.