The Celtics are getting a free look at Perry Jones III. He didn't work out in Oklahoma City for a variety of reasons but he's hoping that a fresh start will give him the opportunity he needs to shine.
"I'm happy that I'm here now," he said. "It's been like a fresh start. It doesn't matter what happened three or four years ago (when the Celtics drafted two other players, Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo, before Jones came off the board in the first round). I'm a totally different person and player from then. It's all about from here on." "I love the people here, to be honest with you. Everybody I've met has been great. I feel like I'm being drafted all over again, to be honest. It's just a great feeling to be here.
I think that's a perfect analogy because it feels like he's in the same boat as some of our rookies and sophomores. Completely unproven with a good amount of upside potential. Of course there's some baggage that comes with being buried on the bench in another city. That doesn't tend to help one's confidence much. But the flipside, you could say that he's already had a chance to adjust to the NBA life and see up close how much work it takes to succeed in the business. What he does with this opportunity is up to him.
At least one NBA writer has pegged him as a guy that could have a breakout year this year.
Jones spent the first three seasons of his career primarily glued to the bench behind Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka in Oklahoma City. But in Boston the forward should be able to carve out a stronger role on a team full of younger players. Guys who get minutes at the pro level put up the numbers and Jones is finally in a position to get more floor burn in 2015-16.
Of course he's going to have to survive roster cut-downs in preseason first. Barring additional moves he's still the most likely to simply get waived.
Still, the Celtics didn't trade for him simply to cut him right away. They did get Zoran Dragic for that purpose and you'll notice that he didn't get a uniform and a spot on the podium this Monday. Jones did though, and perhaps that means he's part of the team's plans for this year. Danny did point out to his athleticism and length as adding something lacking on the roster.
After all, someone has to fill the void of "athletic freak that doesn't play much but gets fans excited when he dunks." For as long as I've been covering the team there's always been someone like that around. From Kedrick Brown to Gerald Green to Henry Walker to James Young. If all we ever get out of PJIII is some highlight dunks and some fun garbage time highlights, that will make trading nothing to acquire him worth it. Basically he's got zero expectations and the talent to exceed those expectations.
The easy joke is to compare him to Jeff Green (he even followed a similar path to Boston by routing through OKC) but if he ever actually reaches the level of Jeff Green that will be a huge win for him. Getting occasional scoring outbursts from a guy on a rookie contract would be wonderful, even if he disappeared for 2 or 3 games between good ones.
But maybe Brad Stevens can find the magic words to whisper into his ear and he can become something even greater than that. Here's hoping at least.