Dahntay Jones entered Saturday night's Raptors-Cavaliers game in garbage time. Four seconds later, he smacked Bismack Biyombo in the junk:
Jones, one of Cleveland's deepest bench players, found himself matched up against Biyombo, who has been absolutely critical for Toronto since the loss of Jonas Valanciunas. Perhaps the smack was accidental, as Jones does appear to be out of control and flailing. But if this was an accident, it's awfully convenient that it happened literally four seconds after Jones entered the game. And Jones has a bit of a history for this sort of thing.
With the game decided, who won the rebound didn't matter, but the ramifications of a dickpunch could've been. Let's say Biyombo got upset that somebody punched him in his groin, and made a rash decision to swing back. Jones and Biyombo each get suspended for Game 4. The Cavs would be fine going forward without their 15th man, while the Raptors' already thin frontcourt would be thinned even more.
Dahntay Jones is not on the Cavaliers to serve a basketball purpose. He was signed on April 13, the day of the meaningless final game of Cleveland's regular season. (He played 42 minutes that night.) Heading into the most meaningful part of the NBA season, Cleveland had an empty spot on their roster. By signing any warm body, they could reduce the risk of an actual good player missing important basketball due to an injury suffered playing unimportant basketball, like the season finale or playoff garbage time.
So what type of player did they try to get with that 15th spot?
Did they need a young player who could develop into something meaningful down the line? No. It's time for the playoffs. If the Cavs wanted to work on a project, they would've signed him in October.
Did they need a backup center, in case something happens to one of their big men? No, they already have those. At this point Timofey Mozgov is their third-string center, which I suppose makes Sasha Kaun their fourth-string center. They didn't need a fifth-string.
Did they need a strong veteran voice in the clubhouse with playoff experience to keep the team centered in the most important part of the year? The Cavs already have Richard Jefferson and Mo Williams and James Jones. They're building a nursing home down on the end of the bench. That's enough veteran voices.
Did they need an extra shooter? Can't hurt, right? I mean, they already have James Jones, who isn't playing much, and Jordan McRae, who scored 36 points in the season finale but has only played one minute in the postseason. Both are good shooters in case the team's more prominent shooters go down.
Did they need an extra point guard? If something happens to Kyrie Irving, Matthew Dellavedova and Mo Williams, the Cavs will just have LeBron play point. And if something happens to LeBron, well, why bother playing?
The Cavs have 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th men who play every conceivable reserve role the team needs. So with their 15th man, they weren't actually looking for somebody to make Cleveland better at basketball. They were looking for somebody who could irritate opponents into making them worse, and Jones was the perfect signing.
Once upon a time, Jones was a meaningful NBA player. He even started on a 2009 Nuggets team that made it all the way to the conference finals. He was never good at shooting and would probably have an aneurysm if asked to run point, but he was athletic, smart, and dedicated to shutting down opposing scorers. And as happens to many players dedicated to shutting down opposing scorers, he got good at personally irritating them. He upset Kobe Bryant in those 2009 playoffs with a blatant trip:
In 2013, he sprained Bryant's ankle by cutting under him as he shot, a dirty move that Bryant certainly felt was intentional:
But athleticism disappears with age, and Jones' best basketball skill vanished. By 2013, he was the same awful offensive player he always was, but without the trademark defense that made him a key cog on good teams. All that was left was the irritation factor. Nobody signed him in the 2013-14 season. Last year, he played poorly in limited minutes with the Clippers, but he still managed to find a way to upset opponents, even in games he didn't play. He upset Draymond Green by bumping into him during a postgame interview:
Jones has long claimed his actions, from undercutting Kobe to bumping Green, have been unintentional. If asked, he'd probably claim he didn't mean to smack Biyombo in the junk either. But I'd bet he knows what he's doing. He's managed two incidents with important opposing players with virtually no playing time. That doesn't happen by accident.
Jones has found a way to be useful to NBA teams despite the fact that he no longer has NBA-level basketball talent. He's a smart guy, a Duke grad. He knows that to get teams to sign him and not [X player, who most likely is better at basketball than Dahntay Jones], he has to provide a service nobody else can. And he's doing it.
Dahntay Jones will earn a few thousand dollars for his service to the Cavaliers, and by punching a good opposing player in the penis, I suppose he's earned it. My only hope is that his actions don't actually affect the playoffs in any way, because I like basketball, and Jones is not here to play basketball.
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Below the belt shots from past seasons
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