Damian Jones exited Sacramento's Golden 1 Arena last week with a set of goals entering the summer: finish a degree in chemical engineering from Vanderbilt, rectify an injury-riddled start to his career and enter a contract year for the Warriors in "attack mode"
The latter objective won't come into fruition as Jones was traded - along with a second-round pick to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for second-year big man Omari Spellman Monday afternoon, according to The Athletic.
"I think it will be a great opportunity," Jones told NBC Sports Bay Area shortly after the trade. It's a great young team and I think I'll be able to fit right in."
The move reunites Jones with Hawks general manager Travis Schlink, who was in the Warriors front office when Golden State drafted him 30th overall in the 2016 NBA draft. The move comes just a week after the Warriors signed Willie Cauley Stein to a deal slightly above the veteran's minimum, which agreed to as Jones participated in the California Classic in Sacramento
"I know that was always a possibility," Jones said. I was just expecting that anything could happen."
While his physical attributes marvel, injuries have undermined a promising young career. Twelve days the 2016 NBA Draft, Jones tore his right pectoral muscle following a bench-press pre-draft workout with the Orlando Magic. With his rookie season all but lost, he toiled in the G-League in his second year, averaging 15 points and 5.8 rebounds per game for the Santa Cruz Warriors.
Though he won the Warriors' starting center in training camp 10 months ago, Jones again tore his pectoral in an early-season loss to the Detroit Pistons. While he returned for the playoffs, Jones struggled against the postseason competition. He averaged just 0.8 points and two minutes in five games, prompting another appearance with the Warriors' summer league team at his request.
"It was kind of rocky, with the injury and things," Jones said. "But you know, just take it for what it is, and take it as a stepping stone."
Now, Jones will enter the next phase of his career alongside a young core in Atlanta led by point guard Trae Young, who averaged 19.1 points and 8.1 assists in his rookie season and a Hawks team most NBA observers see as a unit on the rise. With Jones - a Baton Rouge native - in the fold, a chance to revitalize his career awaits.
"I mean, it's a good city. I think it's going to be very interesting being there," Jones said. "It's closer to home. And then it's in the south, so I think it'll be great."