Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle says the Rockets plan on picking up Terrence Jones’ and Donatas Montiejunas’ fourth-year options.
“The Rockets intend to pick up their fourth-year option on the contracts for both players, a person with knowledge of the plan said on Tuesday. In keeping with their policy on such moves, the Rockets will wait until the Oct. 31 deadline to pick up the contract options for the 2015-16 season for both players should unforeseen developments influence that decision.”
The Rockets’ intentions suggests one of two possibilities; the team either considers Jones and Montiejunas as integral pieces to the championship puzzle, or hopes to trade either or both players with a mix of draft choices for a more established star in the coming months. Regardless of the Rockets motives, locking up young talent on cheap contracts is simply a smart move.
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If Jones and Montiejunas are in the team’s future plans, Feigen notes that Rockets’ coach Kevin McHale has indicated that their roles, at least for the moment, are up in the air.
“They [Jones and Montiejunas] need to go out there and take that spot. It’s open for competition. We need guys who are going to defend with physicality and rebound.”
McHale’s focus on physicality and rebounding underscores the Rockets preseason focus on improving the team’s defensive intensity and toughness. Jones and Montiejunas must both improve in the rebounding and physicality department, but I think that Jones can bring more of those traits to the power forward position while also providing pivotal spacing for Dwight Howard down low.
After earning the starting nod at power forward last season, Jones responded with the best season of his young career, posting averages of 12.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game. Montiejunas, on the other hand, was relegated to bench duty, averaging 5.5 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 0.3 blocks per game.
Both players have flashed upper echelon talent, but only Jones was afforded the minutes to show it night in and night out. However, after flopping defensively against Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge in the first two games of the Rockets first round playoff defeat last season, Jones’ toughness and defensive chops have been called into question.
If Jones and Montiejunas both fail to become more physical post players, look for the possibility of recent Rockets’ signee Jeff Adrien to swoop in and usurp some key minutes from both players.
All statistics courtesy of basketball-reference.com unless otherwise noted.