It's a -- not so secret -- secret that NBA agents have a strong influence over where their clients go. Players have the ultimate say so, but make no mistake, players' agents wield a great amount of control over where their clients end up. This power is all the more prevalent when that agent represents one of the league's superstars.
Anthony Davis is one of those superstars. Consequently, his agent, Thad Foucher, enjoys more leverage than most of his competition because he represents arguably the youngest, most exciting marketable name in the association.
As fate would have it, Foucher's clients have gained some favor on the Pelicans roster. Last season, the Pelicans had three of Foucher's seven clients on their roster: Davis, Jrue Holiday, and Kendrick Perkins.
If you were trying to read the tea leaves and predict who Dell Demps and the New Orleans Pelicans might go after this season, Foucher's client list might be a good place to start. Coincidentally, one of his clients, Terrence Jones, actually fits a need on the Pelicans roster. Jones is a PF with some potential as a small ball center who will become a restricted free agent this summer. Foucher will likely want his client to change teams due to the lack of playing time and production Jones has produced in Houston.
It's also worth noting that Davis and Jones played together at Kentucky at 2012. That year, the two of them combined to produce one of the most feared front courts in recent memory, as they marched their way to a national championship. Yeah, it's safe to say there is already some cached chemistry between the two Kentucky alums.
Yesterday, Jason Albert devised a scheme to land Jones if Daryl Morey refuses to let walk this summer. Today, I'm considering the notion that the Rockets may decide to pass on his restricted free agency status for whatever reason.
Is Terrence Jones Good?
To determine whether Jones is a good fit with the Pelicans, one must start with a simpler question: Is Terrence Jones any good? That's hard to say immediately; he is one of the biggest mysteries in the NBA. Jones was really good two years ago, but last year, however, was a completely different story.
Two seasons ago, at the age of 22, Jones started 77 games for the Houston Rockets. He averaged 12 points, 6 rebounds and 1 assist per game. Jones advanced metrics were where he really shined. He posted a 19.1 PER, a 2.2 VORP, and a 119 offensive rating paired with a 104 defensive rating.
Since then, however, it has pretty much been all downhill for Terrence Jones. In the 2014-15 season, he suffered an injury that kept him out most of the season. In 2015-16, among the turmoil of Houston's poor start, Jones fell out of favor with the coaching staff and started in just 11 games and only played in 50 games total. His PER diminished all the way to 13.5 and he posted the first negative rating of his career at 105 on offense and 109 on defense.
So was last year just a fluke or a sign of things to come for Terrence Jones? If I had to bet, I would guess that it was an outlier. Suffice to say, I don't think Jones and other players got along well with the Houston Rockets biggest star, James Harden.
I don’t know what Terrence Jones’s plans were for after Game 4 but James Harden ruined them. pic.twitter.com/DP84cxjDHC— devin kharpertian (@uuords) April 22, 2016
Even if Jones doesn't show a giant leap in improvement this year, (sadly) he would probably still be leaps and bounds better than most of the guys currently on the Pelicans roster. Consider this, in his worst season he averaged a 13.5 PER. Dante Cunningham, Alonzo Gee, and Quincy Pondexter haven't had a PER that high in the past two seasons. *Cries!*
The thing I like most about Jones game, is that he is actually a two-way player. For his career, he has a 114 offensive rating and an 105 defensive rating. The Pelicans are in desperate, desperate, desperate need of guys who can play on both sides of the court. While Jones isn't a good three point shooter, he is an effective scorer with a career average 51% from the field.
The things I don't like about Jones are his career assist numbers -- he averages just one per a game -- and a lack of rebounding. He ranked 55th in rebounding rate among all power forwards last year. Not great Bob.
Jones Fit with the Pelicans
The Pelicans need more two way players on their roster. Plain and simple. The theme of this season has to be greater versatility for New Orleans.
The team also needs a player who can help plug the gaping hole at SF on this roster. Jones is more of a PF who is also capable of playing some small ball C alongside AD. Standing 6'9.5" with a big 7'2.5" wingspan, a massive 8'11" standing reach, and tipping the scales at 252 pounds, Jones gives the appearance of a bigger Draymond Green. Green measured 6'7.5" with a 7'1.25" wingspan, 8'9" standing reach, and weighed 236 pounds in the same NBA Combine class.
However, it must be said that Jones lacks the attitude, rim protection (although the 2014-15 shows some promise on that end where opponents shot just 46.3% at the bucket), and playmaking ability. All in all, he is a really good fit "talent wise" on the Pelicans roster. He's also just 24 years old.
Still, Jones is a player whose production has fallen off over the years. He comes with some injury concerns, though most of his injuries have been of the random freak accident variety. The good news, however, is that has probably drastically lowered his asking price.
Jones shouldn't be the central target of the Pelicans. That title should go to more established players such as Kent Bazemore, Jared Dudley, Chandler Parsons, and yes, even Harrison Barnes. Still Jones has the potential to be a very nice subsequent addition who could be signed to pair with one of those aforementioned guys.
In theory, at least, it would be possible to give a very mature high character guy like Jared Dudley a two year $24-28 million dollar contract, and then sign Terrence Jones to a three year $21-24 Million dollar contract.
The bet Dell ultimately has to make on Jones is that if you surround him with high character, high motor guys, can he return to his old form? If that bet paid off for the Pelicans, it could really change the fortunes of this franchise.