Damian Jones (15) of the Golden State Warriors takes a free throw against of the Los Angeles Lakers during the second quarter on October 12, 2018 at SAP Center in San Jose, California. (Chris Victorio / Special to S.F. Examiner)

Warriors trade Damian Jones to Hawks for Omari Spellman

Golden State gives itself financial breathing room while adding a younger big with upside

The Golden State Warriors have traded center Damion Jones and a 2026 second-round pick to the Atlanta Hawks for power forward Omari Spellman. The news was first reported by The Athletic, and confirmed by the Warriors shortly thereafter.

With the trade, Golden State excahnged Jones’ $2.3 million salary for Spellman’s $1.9 million, saving about $400,000 — critical for a team facing a hard cap of $139 million due to the Kevin Durant-D’Angelo Russell sign-and-trade.

While there are financial benefits, Spellman, who turns 22 this month, is younger and already more polished than Jones. He joins a center rotation that’s gotten younger and more athletic since the end of the season, including presumptive starter Willie Cauley-Stein, Kevon Looney and 39th overall draft pick Alen Smailagic.

Spellman can also play some small forward, meaning that he and his former teammate at Villanova — Golden State draft pick Eric Paschall — can back up Draymond Green.

The No. 30 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, Spellman played in 46 games (11 starts) as a rookie for Atlanta last season, averaging 17.5 minutes per game. He shot 40.2% from the field and 34.4% from 3-point range. He averaged 5.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, one assist and half a block per game.

Jones, however, has yet to prove he can be a dependable NBA player. After splitting his first two seasons between Golden State and G League Santa Cruz, he began last season as the starting center due to the injury to DeMarcus Cousins. In 17.1 minutes in 24 games (including 22 starts). Before he went down with a torn pectoral muscle that cost him most of the season, he was averaging 5.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.2 assists and one block per game. He played in four playoff games, averaging 0.8 points in 2.1 minutes.

During action at the California Classic in Sacramento, Jones struggled with conditioning and as a result committed numerous fouls.

Golden State currently has 14 players projected for their 2019-20 roster, 11 of whom are 25 or younger.

Taking into account the likely waiving of Shaun Livingston’s $7.7 million contract (which becomes guaranteed Wednesday) and signing both second-round picks (Smailagic and Paschall), the Warriors are now roughly $219,000 below the hard cap, meaning they won’t even have a minimum contract to offer, and will likely begin next season with an open roster spot.

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