Former WVU forward Kevin Jones signs three-year deal with Cavaliers
Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 07:09
Kevin Jones sat in the Green Room of the Prudential Center waiting for his name to be called in the NBA draft.
The night that was supposed to be one of the best of the Mount Vernon, N.Y., native’s life hadn’t gone according to plan; after waiting for more than four hours and 60 picks, he wasn’t chosen.
"It was definitely really frustrating and embarrassing because I had my family there with me," Jones told The Daily Athenaeum Monday. "There’s nothing that’s guaranteed. You’ve got to work for everything, and it’s just another part of my life where I have to work for what I have again.
"I’m used to it, I’m used to doing that, I’m used to having people overlook me. It’s nothing new to me."
Jones will have the chance to prove himself in the NBA next season, though. He signed a $2.2 million three-year, partially guaranteed deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers as an undrafted free agent Monday. He’ll earn $50,000 just for signing the contract and is expected to make $450,000 in his rookie season if he makes the team.
"It’s definitely great to get paid for doing what you love. There’s no better feeling than that," Jones said. "I don’t even consider it a job because I love playing basketball so much.
"There’s absolutely nothing I would trade for this."
The 6-foot-8 forward agreed to join the Cavaliers’ summer league team, but couldn’t participate due to a foot injury he suffered in pre-draft workouts.
Cleveland’s effort to stick with him through his injury was a sign to Jones that it might be the right place for him to be.
"It made me feel a lot better because they didn’t have to do that," Jones said. "It goes to show what hard work can do because they’ve seen me work hard in college and they know what I’m capable of when I’m healthy. I couldn’t ask for more than that."
Prior to the draft, Jones and his agent Bill Neff were told by an NBA team that they would select him with a pick at the end of the first round or early in the second round. It was another example that the NBA is a business with many people whose word cannot always be trusted.
But for some reason, there was no uncertainty when the Cavaliers said they were going to sign Jones.
"I’m not always comfortable dealing with some teams, but the people in Cleveland were very honorable, and it made us think they were sincere," Neff said. "They wanted to go about things a certain way, and we took them for their word. Even when he went down there and he was hurt, they still wanted him."
Jones has a simple mission now that the contract has been signed. He just wants to get back out on the floor and prove he deserves to be in the NBA.
"I already play with a little bit of a chip on my shoulder anyway, but (going undrafted) will definitely serve as extra motivation," Jones said. "I don’t want to just prove those teams wrong, though; I want to prove the Cavaliers right.
"I want to show them that they made a good decision to take a chance on me when nobody else would."
If he goes through training camp and makes the roster for the Cavaliers, Jones will have the chance to make his childhood dream come true.
He admits it wasn’t an easy road to get here, and obviously there were a few disappointments along the way, but he’s ready to show he has what it takes.
"It’s something I’ve wanted to do ever since I started playing basketball, just to get to experience that moment of playing in the NBA," he said. "I’m sure I’ll have some butterflies at first, but once I’m out there for a few minutes, they’ll be gone, and I’ll continue to keep playing the way I always have.
"I still have a long road ahead of me before that happens, though, so I have to keep working hard to get there and be a successful player."