Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star is reporting that former Denver Nuggets shooting guard Dahntay Jones has accepted a 4-year $11 million deal with the Indiana Pacers. I’ve never quite understood why you would leave a team that had so much success (thanks in part to your efforts) for an up-and-coming team.

The Nuggets finished last season as the second best team in the Western Conference and finished the regular season with a 54-28 record (10-6 in the playoffs). The Indiana Pacers finished the season three games out of the playoffs in the Eastern Conference with a 36-46 record.

The Pacers were a high-scoring and exciting team that averaged 105.1 points per game (second most in the East behind the New York Knicks.) But they managed to give up 106.2 points per game and that is why the defensive minded Dahntay Jones was signed.

Follow me into the jump for more! (This isn't a request … just do it!)

Why would Jones accept an offer for roughly $2.75 million from the Pacers?

Financial security is a big, big thing for a journeymen who was a fringe NBA player before resurrecting his career with the Nuggets last season. Jones will be under contract with the Pacers until he is 32 years-old. If Dahntay plays up to the expectations he set for himself while in Denver … then he could possibly earn another nice deal when his contract is up and he'll be 33 years-old.

I'm not quite sure if the Nuggets were ever close to signing Dahntay or if they even offered him a deal. Since Denver did not own his "Bird Rights" they only could offer Jones part of the leftover MLE ($2.1 million) or their bi-annual exception ($1.99 million.) Now, those figures are nothing to sneeze at, but again, I'm not sure what the Nuggets talked to his agent about … money wise.

Playing time

The Nuggets didn't really utilize Jones the way I thought they could have. George Karl liked to start Jones for a defensive spark and really so that J.R. Smith could come in and provide an offensive spark when the starters began to tire. Jones would play the first nine minutes or so of the first quarter and then he'd be parked on the bench until the start of the second half, where again he'd be used for roughly nine minutes. I thought Jones played his way into earning more minutes, but Anthony Carter was often in the mix for Jones' minutes at shooting guard.

In Indiana, Jones has a chance to again be a starter and perhaps earn stater-type minutes, as second-year guard Brandon Rush, 24, out of Kansas is the only other shooting guard on the roster at the moment. Rush is no slouch as he averaged 8.1 ppg in his rookie campaign and should be stiff competition for Jones. Dahntay will again be surrounded by a great small forward in Danny Granger and will be a nice complimentary player in Indiana's run-and-gun system. If there is one thing Jones excelled at on offense, it was getting down the floor and to the rim.

Dahntay averaged 18.1 minutes per game as a Nugget to go along with 5.4 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 0.62 steals. He shot 45% from the field, 64% from three-point land (11-17), and 72% shooting from the foul line. Jones had a knack for taking the ball strong to the rim and was a pretty good finisher once he got there … just ask Erick Dampier.

Jones will be missed by the fans in Denver and by his teammates. When Dahntay wasn't hounding Chris Paul or his other defensive assignments, he could be seen on the bench … or at least near the bench, as he was usually one of the more emotionally charged guys waving a towel and celebrating big plays. It's always tough when your team loses a player whom many felt played a key role in getting Melo out of the first round of the playoffs.

Here is what Dahntay's agent Mark Bartelstein had to say about Jones' decision to leave:

“I think ideally he would have loved to have stayed in Denver and continued building on what the team did last year,” Jones agent, Mark Bartelstein, said. “But, for financial (reasons), it just didn’t make sense. And it’s a little bittersweet. He would have loved to have stayed with the Nuggets. The fans were great to him, he really enjoyed playing for George Karl and with his teammates. But, it’s also a business. The Pacers present a great opportunity for him, a big role on their team. After weighing everything he thought it was the right decision to make.”

-Full story from the Denver Post here.

Well, that's what George Karl gets for trusting a Dukie! Ha ha! I wish Dahntay the best of luck in Indiana, from everything I heard about him off the court and everything I saw from him on it … he deserves it.


Birdman's Contract:

I've been reading a lot of folks thinking that Andersen's contract might be a cap killer once the Bird gets to the final year or so of his new deal. I'm not a math wiz at all … that's why I like to write actually … I hate math! But I did my best to run Bird's numbers and verified it with some of my buddies who deal with numbers on a day-to-day basis.

Andersen's "Bird Rights" were not owned by Denver so the maximum pay raise he could receive from the Collective Bargaining Agreement per year was 8%. Now assuming that Denver is giving him that 8% raise each season that equates to a raise of $296,000 each year. So, his yearly salaries look like this:

  • Year 1: $3,700,000
  • Year 2: $3,996,000
  • Year 3: $4,292,000
  • Year 4: $4,588,000
  • Year 5: $4,884,000
  • Total: $21,460,000
  • Incentives Roughly: $4,540,000

If Andersen doesn't reach any of his incentives (highly doubtful) then he'll only receive $21 million from the Nuggets over the five-year contract. Still, at $26 million this is a great deal for a backup big man. I'm just glad the Nuggets will not be paying the likes of Zach Randolph ($16 million next season and $17.33 million the following season), Zydrunas Ilguskas ($11.5 million), Erick Dampier ($10.1 million next season and $13 million the following season), or even Birdman's predecessor Marcus Camby (base salary of $7.6 million.)

In today's landscape where Big Men make mad money … the Birdman signing was a steal.


Nuggets links:

The Denver Post's Chris Dempsey ponders the Nuggets losing ground in the West.

Dempsey talks with Nuggets executive Mark Warkentien about more moves.

The Post's wire service informs us that Antonio McDyess will be collecting check from the Nuggets and the Spurs next season. A line up of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Richard Jefferson, Antonio McDyess, and Tim Duncan should be enough to scare the s*** out of you.



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