Kevin Jones is getting a second chance at the NBA, courtesy of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Cavaliers, one of the teams Jones interviewed with prior to Thursday’s draft, has signed the former WVU men’s basketball forward as a free agent to a three-year contract.
Jones, who led the Big East in both scoring and rebounding this past season, went undrafted Thursday, and was left to wonder what his basketball future held.
“Really, not being drafted may end up being a blessing in disguise,” Jones said Saturday. “It will serve as a lot of motivation for me.
“I was in contact with both Cleveland and Charlotte after the draft. Cleveland offered a more secure deal. I felt more comfortable with the players and coaches there when I visited.”
The three-year deal holds only a partial guarantee — money that would be owed to Jones if the Cavaliers release him before the start of next season — according to Kevin’s older brother, Gerard.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“I don’t believe anything really becomes official until [today],” said Bill Neff, Jones’ New Yorkbased agent. “I feel it’s a situation where Cleveland wanted to do something that was a little more than just bringing in another guy.”
According to the NBA salary scale, the league minimum for a rookie free agent is $473,604 for next season.
At this point, though, Jones is just looking for an opportunity to show he belongs in the NBA.
“All anybody needs is a chance,” Jones said. “It’s up to me to make the most of the chance I’m being given now with Cleveland.”
His chance begins Thursday, when he reports to Cleveland for workouts and orientation.
The Cavaliers are scheduled to play in the NBA’s Las Vegas summer league this season, July 13-22. Cleveland’s first game is against Charlotte, at 5:30 p.m. on July 15, at the Thomas & Mack Center.
“I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself, but I just need to go out and have a good summer league,” Jones said. “That’s the first step. I need to be able to go out and show I’ll play my heart out for them and represent well for them both on and off the court.”
Prior to the draft, Neff said an NBA team had guaranteed it would select Jones somewhere in the draft.
“We had a team that told us they were going to take him, but they pulled it. What are you going to do?” Neff said. “It happens all the time in the draft. You never know for sure until it actually happens. That’s just how the draft goes.”
Still, Jones, who scored 1,822 points and grabbed 1,048 rebounds at WVU, will be given a shot at the NBA.
“After I started looking back on the draft, I realized this was nothing new,” Jones said. “I’ve had to prove people wrong all the time. When I looked at the draft, I figured it couldn’t be any other way than how it happened.”
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