Tuesday, April 22, 2008

James Jones has options

I don't know if that many people realize it, but it's possible that James Jones has played his final game as a Trail Blazer. I don't think that's the case, but it's a possibility, and a very real one at that.

Jones has a player option for the 2008-2009 season, and as the name of the option would indicate, it's a decision that is exercised by the player. Here's how it works (to the best of my understanding): James has until July 1 to opt into his contract for next season. If he picks up the option, he plays for the Blazers next season at an already pre-determined salary, after which he becomes an unrestricted free agent. If he chooses not to pick up his option, he instantly becomes an unrestricted free agent, thus being free to play with whomever offers a contract in the 2008-2009 season. That team could very well be the Blazers, so even if Jones chooses not to exercise his player option, he could still end up playing for the Blazers next season, presumably with a new free agent contract.

So James Jones has options, though he's not approaching the decision as though it's all on him. Jones told The Oregonian's Joe Freeman that:
"I'm a pretty simple and easy guy. It's not complicated. It's no mystery that I like it here. I just want to be somewhere where I can be effective. It's not my decision -- it's our decision. Me and (Pritchard). There are conversations to be had. Things change and visions change. You just like to know what the future holds for you and the team."
Jones, in my opinion, isn't a guy who is out to break the bank. He just wants to be a valued member of a team that's moving in the right direction.

It's impossible to tell at this point what offers might be extended from other teams. If a playoff team gets bounced in the first round thanks to a lack of long-range shooting and veteran composure, maybe they take a look at James Jones. But then again, maybe Jones isn't interested. To hear him talk after his exit interview, that might be the case.
"I was on the plane (after the final game against Phoenix) and reality set in that hey, technically there’s a decision to be made. And you don’t make these decisions very often in your career if you’re lucky. So it’s something I have to think about, but all I know is how I feel right now. I love the guys here, I love the team. It’s been a great experience and evidently nothing is set in stone. I just have to think about it a little bit more. They already know I’m definitely open to coming back (to Portland)."
You ask any player in the NBA about contract issues, and invariably, over and over again, the reply will boil down to the same phrase: "It's a business." And in that respect, James Jones is a business man, but business isn't all about dollars. It's hard to put a price on stability, comfort and a being valued by your employer. Some players probably don't care about those things; signing on with the highest bidder out-weighs everything else. But I'm happy to say that I know James Jones a little bit, and I'd all but guarantee that he's looking at the big picture. That bodes well for Blazer fans.

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