Dahntay Jones made his first impressions on the Indiana Pacers faithful in a press conference with team president Larry Bird this afternoon. Three things we learned about the 6-foot-6 guard: he thrives on personal defensive challenges, he doesn't care about scoring and he's one snazzy dresser.
As Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star points out, Jones said all the right things and it was hard not to immediately enjoy the newest member of the blue and gold. He even muttered several quotes that haven't been spoken or whispered in an Indiana Pacers locker room for two years: "defense wins championships" and "I take my (defensive) assignment very, very personal." That's music to our ears, Dahntay.
It was a quick press conference today, and Bird squashed talk about the Jarrett Jack situation after two questions, but both Jones and Bird produced some good quotes that should at least show that some positive change is coming to the defensive end for the Pacers this season. More quotes and links after the jump.
"I'm very, very competitive and I take that as a personal challenge," Jones said. "I've been taught by the coaches I've played with that defense wins championships and if you don't pay attention to that end of the floor you're ultimately not going to be successful. I take that end of the floor personal and I take my assignment very, very personal. And I take that part of the floor as an integral part of being very successful."
The above quote was Jones' own observation of his defensive skills and mentality during today's press conference. He also talked about his low-scoring output, which was only 5.4 points per game last season with the Denver Nuggets. "I'll probably be asked to score a little bit more but that's not an emphasis of mine," Jones said. "I'll take shots when necessary but my emphasis is to make sure I play defense on a daily basis."
Practices must not have gone very well for the Pacers last year. With the addition of Tyler Hansbrough and now Jones, Bird continues to hype up how much those guys will make practices much more intense and productive this upcoming season.
"I like energy guys, I like guys that play hard and when they come to practice they've got talent that brings everybody else up," Bird said. "Now we've got a few of them, our practices are going to be a lot better and we'll be able to compete on a nightly basis. It's all about giving the effort. You want players here that are going to give the effort every day and that's why we got Dahntay and we got Hansbrough and if we re-sign Josh McRoberts, there's a reason we do that - we want players that play hard on the court and off the court and give back to the community."
Although the terms of Jones' new deal weren't officially disclosed, Bruno notes that it is reportedly worth $11 million over four years. Assuming that the Pacers do not match Jarrett Jack's offer from Toronto (worth $20 million over four years), then Bird has roughly $5.2 million remaining under the cap this summer.
Recent reports surfaced that the Pacers were interested in restricted free agent Ramon Sessions, but Wells says that he is now out of the Pacers price range. Wells points to Anthony Carter, Luther Head and Andre Miller as potential targets for the Pacers if they continue looking to shore up the point position. However, getting Miller would require a sign-and-trade with Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote today that Miller is "all but gone" from the team. The veteran guard wants a three-year deal worth $30 million, but the Sixers only put a one-year, $6 million low-ball contract on the table.
Overall, I thought today's conference was a good showing for Jones. He even focused most of his answers talking strictly about the defensive side of the ball. If signing a guy who can guard the point, swing and forward spots meant losing an overpriced Jack to the Raptors, then I'll take Jones. I just hope the Pacers start giving away tickets to practices this year. I have a feeling they're going to be special.