LAS VEGAS (CBS) -- The Celtics rebuild continues to accumulate new pieces and Danny Ainge added another one on Wednesday, acquiring Perry Jones III from the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Unlike the team's recent signings, Jones should help address an area of need at the wing spot. The Celtics have limited depth there for the time being within a largely mediocre group consisting of Jae Crowder, Evan Turner, and James Young. None of those players are known for their athleticism or size, which is something the 6-foot-11 former Baylor star brings to the table.
"Oklahoma City has a great deal of depth on their frontcourt and so we've watched him play and followed him in his college career," Danny Ainge said Tuesday night of Jones. "He's a terrific athlete. He's someone, his game is much different than a lot of the guys that we have under contract right now. We'll see how he fits in with our system."
The decision to gamble on Jones, hoping he will take a strong step forward under Brad Stevens, is an understandable one for the Celtics. The lanky wing showed his potential early in the 2014-15 season by scoring a career-high 32 points against the Los Angeles Clippers when the starting Thunder frontcourt was beset by injuries. The 23-year-old followed up on that performance with a couple of double-digit scoring efforts before falling back out of Scott Brooks' rotation for the majority of the season.
The Celtics had about $7 million of salary cap space to play with before the deal, allowing them to absorb the $2.1 million salary that Jones will earn in 2015-16 as well as an additional asset (a second-round pick) for their trouble. All of this was acquired simply to help the Thunder reduce their payroll, which still needs to be trimmed after the team signed Enes Kanter to a max deal earlier this week.
"Yeah, being able to use the cap space in a variety of ways and one of them is to acquire young talent and to acquire picks by taking on contracts," Ainge said. "The benefit is getting assets, sort of like we did last year with Tyler Zeller and Cleveland's first just by having the trade exceptions. This is a similar situation to that."
With Jones in the mix for the time being, things do not look good for several other potential members of the Celtics roster. Players like Phil Pressey and Chris Babb were always long shots to make the team next year, but those odds keep falling when other veteran players are brought into the fold.
Pressey's 2015-16 salary of $947,276 will become guaranteed on Wednesday if he is not waived by then, so there is a strong possibility he will either be released or traded to save the team some cap space. Babb's non-guaranteed contract is likely to be used as trade bait in the coming months as well since there won't be room for him on the roster.
Ainge also still needs to address the perimeter shooting issue on the roster, since Jones is one player that should not be counted on for help in that department, shooting 29 percent for his career from downtown. The harsh reality is first-round draft pick R.J. Hunter is the only three-point shooter the team has landed this summer and the former Georgia State star may not even see minutes in a crowded Boston backcourt this upcoming season.
Ideally, Boston has one more notable move to make in the days to come, likely to land more perimeter help, whether it be Danilo Gallinari or another sharpshooter. Jones will help with his size, athleticism and defensive versatility, but if Ainge wants to create a balanced improved team in 2015-16, more work remains.
Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to NBA.com, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.
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