Cleveland Cavaliers reserve guard Dahntay Jones only appeared in three minutes of Monday night's Game 1 Eastern Conference semifinal victory over the Toronto Raptors.
However, despite his limited action, he still managed to earn an early trip to the locker room, as he picked up two technical fouls and was ejected with 18.7 seconds left in Cleveland's 116-105 home win.
The technicals stemmed from a trash-talking session with Toronto guard Norman Powell, who took offense with a late dunk by Jones.
With a $3,000 fine for each technical, Jones's checkbook was about to get much lighter, as he is only earning a prorated veteran's minimum salary of $9,127 after signing with the Cavs before the final game of the regular season.
However, star forward LeBron James told ESPN.com after the game that he'd make sure the veteran's earnings remain untouched. After paying Jones's fine after he was ejected against the Raptors in the playoffs last year, James said he'd once again cover for his teammate:
"I said I was going to pay the fine before I even knew what it was. It didn't matter," James, who made a league-best $31 million this season, said Monday with a laugh at the memory. "And I told him tonight, I said, 'Listen, Dahntay, now enough is enough. Stop getting kicked out against Toronto all the time. I'm going to stop paying your damn fines.' But yeah, he don't have to worry about it. He's good."
With stars like LeBron covering for some of the lesser-paid players on the team, the morale in Cleveland's locker room is probably at an all-time high right now.
In his defense, though, Jones said he didn't understand why he was quickly given two technicals and kicked out of Monday's contest:
"It really wasn't that intricate," Jones told ESPN. "I don't know what happened. All I said was, 'You better not jump,' and that got me the first tech. And then the second one, Norman walked up on me and said, 'Don't you do that s---!'
"And I said, 'What are you doing to do?' Like, 'What you goin' to do?' And that's two. So those are the exact words I said: 'What are you going to do?' No curse words."
The refs clearly heard something they didn't like, though, and sent Jones to the locker room after only scoring two points in his limited action.
If Jones sees the court again over the course of this postseason, he'll need to do his best to avoid confrontations, as any sort of fine he earns the rest of the way may indeed cost him a significant portion of this year's salary.