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Damian Jones cleared for contact, could return this year

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The Warriors young center is nearing a return to the court.

NBA: Orlando Magic at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Golden State Warriors center Damian Jones could return before the playoffs are over. Coach Steve Kerr said at Sunday’s practice that the third-year big man has been cleared for contact, and will take part in three-on-three drills this coming week.

If he progresses well, the Vanderbilt product could make it back to the court during the NBA Finals, should the Warriors make it that far.

Jones returning would be a great accomplishment for the young center. That said, he would be unlikely to play a meaningful role. Even though Jones was a starter this year, he averaged only 17.1 minutes per game.

Now Kevon Looney has established himself as a huge part of the rotation, and Andrew Bogut is around. Add that to the rust Jones will have from half a year off the court, and the fact that the Warriors are going smaller in the playoffs, and Jones would almost surely be relegated to garbage time.

Still, it would be good depth for the team, and a tremendous achievement for Jones.

Of course, much depends on how long the Warriors run goes. Golden State will play a minimum of three more playoff games, and a maximum of 18.