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It's feels longer than seven years since Fred Jones has been in the NBA. But that's because he has been on a well-traveled career.
Jones was the 14th overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft by the Indiana Pacers. After parting ways with Indiana in the 2006 offseason, Jones has been bouncing around throughout the league, unable to find a stable home.
Over the last two years, he's played with Toronto, Portland and New York but never stayed past one season as he was released by each team. Jones, who didn't get picked up in the 2008 off-season, then landed a 10-day contract with the Clippers on Dec 28.
On Jan 5, Jones was waived by the Clippers and it appeared that he was once again on the move. But he was able to retrieve his job back on Jan 8 and later that month, he signed a Veteran pro-rated contract for the remainder of the season.
After being unemployed for nearly six months, Jones' actions are speaking louder than words and he's showing that he has a lot of basketball left in him. Despite the Clippers' cloudy season, Jones is becoming a piece to their puzzle by averaging 7.5 points, 3.7 assists and 1.6 rebounds in 31 games.
Not bad for a player who was unemployed for nearly half of the season.
"I would just like to thank God to be given another opportunity," said Jones.
It's a far cry from perhaps his most memorable moment when he won the Slam Dunk Contest in 2004. Since then, the road has been rocky but with the Clippers, he's finally regaining his form.
He's showed that he can be a key player off the bench when on March 2, he hit a 62-foot buzzer beater that was nothing but net. He played 42 minutes that night against San Antonio coming off the bench scoring 14 points, 4 rebounds and three assists.
He has produced double figures in 13 of his 31 games but what can't be seen in his stats is how he brings intensity whenever he in the game. He's aggressive and has been known to be a defensive player, but can be a threat on offense as well.
If the Clippers don't re-sign Jones, he might have a chance to start somewhere else. Jones will be a free agent this summer so expect other teams to put their bid in early.
But all of that is perhaps far from his mind as he is expecting a baby boy in June with his wife, who moved to Los Angeles in January. With a child on the way and finally employed, Jones can take a deep breath, at least for now.
"I'm just relieved" said Jones.