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Damian Jones is a fan of the outdoors and for the past few years he’s been making his way through national parks and landmarks. He’s been to Yosemite, Sequoia, the Grand Canyon and Lassen national parks, and spent some time boating on Lake Tahoe.
But last summer he was actually in Utah. He hit Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon and Zion national parks, and Jazz fans will be happy to know that after all of his outdoor travels, one of his favorite stops has been one of Utah’s treasures.
“Arches is my favorite so far,” Jones said.
If that wasn’t enough to win over Jazz fans, his debut with the team sealed the deal.
Just four days after joining the Jazz at the trade deadline — as a part of the deal that sent Mike Conley to the Minnesota Timberwolves and Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley to the Los Angeles Lakers — Jones and Juan Toscano-Anderson made their Jazz debut in the final game before the All-Star break.
Jones played just under eight minutes that night, but the Jazz were a +10 in those minutes and pretty much took the backup center minutes away from Udoka Azubuike with just one appearance for the Jazz.
Toscano-Anderson was just as much of a spark for the Jazz that night, playing more minutes than he had since November 2021.
After a really successful run with the Warriors during the 2020-21 season, Toscano-Anderson saw his role diminished during the Warriors’ title run in 2022. After signing with the Lakers last year, he was disappointed when his role was undefined. He was on the fringe of the roster, racking up DNPs and only getting time on the court when there were injuries.
Jones was in the same boat with the Lakers. So when the pair heard about the trade, they were both instantly excited about a fresh start with the Jazz.
“I was happy about it and kinda relieved,” Toscano-Anderson said. “My situation there wasn’t the best. I want to play basketball. I love this game, that’s what I wake up every day to do. I play this game because I actually like playing and I wasn’t seeing the time there, which is perfectly fine. I just wasn’t in the rotation, so I’m looking forward to a new opportunity.”
Toscano-Anderson immediately reached out to the Jazz coaching staff and asked for some film so he could try to get up to speed before meeting the team in New York a couple days later. What he saw when he was watching Jazz clips, was that his style of play — quick actions reads, moving with and without the ball, lots of movement and passing — was a perfect fit.
After his first minutes on the court with the Jazz in Memphis, he was sold.
“I like the vibe of this team,” he said. “Let me correct myself: I love the vibe of this team.”
New with the Jazz
This week on ‘Unsalvageable’
Check out “Unsalvageable,” hosted by Deseret News Utah Jazz beat reporter Sarah Todd and lifelong Jazz fan Greg Foster (no, not that Greg Foster).
This week the crew recaps All-Star Weekend and talks through the situation with the Atlanta Hawks and what kind of situation Quin Snyder might be best suited for. Make sure to listen to the end of this week’s episode because we’re having a contest and you can win some Jazz swag.
New episodes come out every week. You can listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and anywhere else you stream podcasts.
All-Star Weekend coverage
In the days and weeks leading up to the All-Star break and throughout the All-Star Weekend, my Deseret News colleagues and I worked tirelessly to cover as many events and provide as much thorough reporting as possible.
All that work turned into more than 30 stories. I’m very proud of what we were able to produce and the work that went into the coverage of All-Star Weekend in Utah and want to make sure I highlight all the great stories that were written. You can find all of them HERE.
From the archives
Donovan Mitchell’s full-circle moment at All-Star 2023 (Deseret News)
Collin Sexton sidelined with hamstring injury (Deseret News)
Karl Malone knows opinion on him has shifted, but he won’t discuss it (Salt Lake Tribune)
What NBA stars thought of All-Star Weekend in Salt Lake City (Salt Lake Tribune)
Around the league
Kevin Durant is nearing a return to play and his debut with the Phoenix Suns.
Atlanta Hawks fire coach Nate McMillan.
Brooklyn Nets give extension to coach Jacque Vaughn.
Feb. 28 | 7 p.m. | Utah Jazz vs. San Antonio Spurs | AT&T SportsNet
March 3 | 6 p.m. | Utah Jazz @ Oklahoma City Thunder | AT&T SportsNet