Jones, 22, is expected to miss four-to-six weeks of basketball activities. The procedure had been planned for the conclusion of the Thunder's summer league schedule for a while. Helping lead Oklahoma City to a 2-3 record in Orlando, Jones averaged 12.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game on 44.7 percent shooting in four appearances.
He did not appear limited by the procedure and scored a team-high 20 points in the Thunder's last game on Friday.
“The first couple of games I was putting a lot of pressure on myself, telling myself that I have to do well," Jones told reporters. “And Darko talked to me before (the last) game and he told me that I need to just smile a little more. Just have fun out there. I’m doing something I love to do. Just have fun. Don’t put a lot of pressure on myself. And I took what he said and I ran with it.”
Jones, a 2012 first-round pick, will be facing even more pressure next summer. He'll be heading into the all-important third year of his rookie contract—the last guaranteed under the league's collective bargaining agreement. The Thunder have a team option for 2014-15, and Jones' progress at the NBA level has been filled with fits and starts.
Viewed as a lottery talent with mediocre production and intermittent commitment, Jones has largely been relegated to bit player status in Oklahoma City. He played in only 38 games as a rookie, and though Scott Brooks gave him more time last season, it was never enough to get into a consistent rhythm. The Baylor product averaged 3.5 points and 1.8 rebounds on 45.9 percent shooting during the regular season.
In the playoffs, Jones was excised from the rotation. He played only 55 minutes total as the Thunder made their run to the Western Conference Finals.
Perry Jones is going to return and become a 6'11" Russell Westbrook. That's how knee surgeries in OKC work, right?— Danny Chau (@dannychau) July 14, 2014
The Thunder have been excellent at bringing their young talent along in recent seasons, so it's possible Jones is primed for a breakout next year. Oklahoma City doesn't have much wiggle room under the luxury tax threshold, and the departure of Caron Butler opens up a swing forward spot. If Jones can continue his growth as a three-point shooter, perhaps Brooks will trust him with an increased role.
But speculation in that regard is a long way from being answered. Jones' injury will keep him on the shelf during a time where many contemporaries are working on improving their game. It'll be more important than ever he gets to work when healthy again.
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