Pacers sign former Nugget Dahntay Jones
INDIANAPOLIS – Dahntay Jones smiled and shook his head when asked about the flagrant fouls he picked up for Denver during the playoffs this past season, including one for tripping Kobe Bryant during the Western Conference finals.
The defensive stopper won’t hesitate to commit a few more with the Indiana Pacers if necessary.
“It comes as a part of the territory in this game of basketball and with taking the betterment of my team personally and trying to win basketball games and doing my job,” Dahntay said Tuesday.
That job will be with the Pacers for the next four years at $11 million, according to his agent, Aaron Mintz.
Jones’ solid work against Bryant and New Orleans guard Chris Paul were among the reasons Pacers president Larry Bird made signing him his first free agent priority. Jones will join a team that has been among the league leaders in points scored and points allowed in two seasons under coach Jim O’Brien.
“We’ve been talking about defense for a while here,” Bird said. “When you watch all these guys play at a high level, you see what they’re really made out of. He showed us a lot. It was somebody who we targeted right after the playoffs, and we went after him, and fortunately, we got him.”
Jones drew complaints during the playoffs from Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson and New Orleans coach Byron Scott. Jackson accused Jones of playing “unsportsmanlike basketball” after tripping Bryant. There was no call, but the league hit Jones with the flagrant the next day. Jones has always maintained that he plays hard, not dirty.
Denver coach George Karl has compared what Jones brought the Nuggets to what Bruce Bowen did as a defensive specialist for San Antonio. That’s fine with Jones.
“I embrace my role, and whatever I have to do to help my team win,” he said. “That was a role I had to play for my team. I had fun with it, and we competed on a nightly basis and we tried to win as many games as possible.”
Jones started 71 games last season. He averaged 5.4 points and 2.1 rebounds in the regular season, but increased those numbers to seven points and 2.4 rebounds in the postseason.
Jones, heading into his seventh season out of Duke, expects those figures to increase with the Pacers.
“I’ll probably be asked to score a little more,” he said. “My job is to make sure I play defense on a daily basis, and the points will come.”
Jones believes he’ll fit into the Pacers’ up-tempo style. He said Indiana earned his respect when the Pacers beat the visiting Nuggets 100-94 on March 1.
“They played extremely hard and they never gave up,” he said. “They weren’t intimidated by us at all. That’s an attitude that I do have a lot of admiration for. I look forward to playing with these guys.”