As Golden State Warriors center Damian Jones went up for a rebound in the final seconds of the third quarter of a 111-102 loss in Detroit, his left hand got caught between the neck and shoulder of Pistons center Andre Drummond.
Jones’s arm twisted and then hung limply as he trotted back up the court. He was taken out with 5.7 seconds to go.
On Sunday, the Warriors (15-9) announced that Jones had torn his left pectoral muscle. After starting 22 of Golden State’s 24 games this season in place of the injured DeMarcus Cousins, Jones is now likely to miss the rest of the season. The team said he is scheduled to see a specialist on Tuesday.
“It’s tough news,” Kerr told assembled media after practice on Sunday. “Whether they say surgery or not — we’re assuming there will be surgery — he’s going to be out for a long time. We don’t know how long yet, but it’s going to be a matter of months.”
It’s very likely that Jones misses much — if not all — of the rest of the season. While working out with the Orlando Magic in the lead up to the 2016 NBA Draft, Jones suffered a torn pectoral muscle in his right arm, which required surgery. He was still picked 30th overall by the Warriors in May of that year, but didn’t play in an NBA game until Dec. 10.
“It’s a tough blow for him,” Kerr said. “He’s been playing so much and progressing and learning so much. We’ve been excited about his growth. This is a big setback for him and for us.”
Jones — who had averaged 5.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.0 block in 17.1 minutes per game — is a tough loss. They now only have two healthy centers, and will call up Marcus Derrickson, who is on a two-way contract. Then, they will explore other options.
“Since this just happened, we haven’t really discussed it much,” Kerr said. “We’re going to bring Marcus Derrickson up from Santa Cruz for the rest of the trip, and then we’ll kind of check on our options, see what we want to do. I haven’t talked to [general manager] Bob [Myers] yet.”
Kevon Looney could slide into the starting role. After showing flashes down the stretch and in the playoffs last season, Looney has averaged 5.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 0.8 blocks per game this season, playing an average of 19.0 minutes per night. He’s played in all 24 games, and started two.
Jordan Bell is another option. At 6-foot-9, he — like Looney — is more of a small-ball center, but he doesn’t have Looney’s length on defense. He’s played in 23 games, started one, and averaged 2.5 points, 0.9 blocks, 1.2 assists and 2.7 rebounds in 12 minutes per night.
Six-foot-10 Jonas Jerebko could also potentially fill Jones’s spot. The offseason free agent signing has largely provided energy coming off the bench in his first year with the club, averaging 6.8 points and 5.6 rebounds in 19.5 minutes per night. He’s played in 24 games, with five starts, and is shooting 45.7 percent from the field and 34.8 percent from 3-point range.
Cousins, who is working his way back from tearing his Achilles last January, began participating in full five-on-five scrimmages in early November, and is thought to be ahead of schedule in his own rehab.
“He’s looked a lot better to me the last couple of days, the intensity of his workouts, and we didn’t do any scrimmage or anything today, but he took part in every aspect of our practice,” Kerr said. “I think he’s making some strides, which is exciting. I do know he will fully take part in every practice that we have this week, every shootaround.”