Jones played three minutes at the end of the Cleveland Cavaliers' 116-105 Game 1 Eastern Conference semifinals win over the Raptors on Monday and picked up back-to-back technical fouls for talking trash to Toronto's Norman Powell, which earned him an ejection with 18.7 seconds remaining.
The technicals come with a $3,000 fine attached to each of them, levied by the league. Jones, who signed with the Cavs on the final day of the regular season, is earning only $9,127 in salary with the team -- a prorated amount of the veteran's minimum contract he inked.
In last year's Eastern Conference finals, Jones was suspended for Game 4 for striking Bismack Biyombo in the groin at the end of Game 3. He was fined 1/110th of his salary -- a meager $80.17 because he was making only $8,800 in salary after he also joined the team on the final day of the regular season -- and James covered it.
"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."
Jones threw down a dunk in garbage time, increasing the Cavs' lead from 12 to 14 points, with Powell giving chase. That led to the exchange that got him ejected.
"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 going 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."
There is an unwritten rule in the NBA that it is poor form to run up the score at the end of a game with the outcome already decided. When the code of conduct isn't followed, retaliation is to be expected. That was the case when Indiana's Lance Stephenson scored an uncontested layup with 3.3 seconds left in a 17-point win over the Raptors late in the season, causing DeMar DeRozan and PJ Tucker to confront the Pacers swingman. It also happened when Washington's Brandon Jennings pushed Golden State's JaVale McGee last month when McGee was taking a 3 with the Warriors up 22 with less than 10 seconds remaining.
Jones said his dunk didn't fall in that category.
"I got the dunk because they pressed," Jones told ESPN. "And we turned the ball over before that. So I don't understand what you want us to do, like, pull it out? Do you want us to pull it out, or do you want to keep attacking us? If you don't want us to attack you, don't attack us in that situation."
Jones said he believed the referees were on high alert after Powell made contact with Kevin Love's groin in the fourth quarter while trying to draw a shooting foul with a rip-through move.
"I think it carried on from what happened with Norman hitting K-Love ... and then they saw, I guess, [Iman Shumpert] and me talking to the refs about it," Jones told ESPN. "Shump was a little upset. And it carried on. It just so happened that Norman walked up on me, so I guess they tried to disperse the situation, but those are the things I said. So if that's worth getting a technical, all right. But if PJ Tucker is going to talk to us the whole game and talk his stuff, then I don't understand. I really don't.
"I think [the refs] were just sensitive to everything, in my opinion. But it wasn't that intricate to where I was cussing at people. It was very quick."
James said whatever trash talk Tucker or any other member of the Raptors were trying in Game 1 did not affect him.
"I don't really get involved with it too much, unless someone says something to me, and then I'll say my piece and keep it moving," James said. "I focus on what the main thing is. The main thing is to win. I see it going on, I hear it, but I don't really get involved in it unless, like I said, someone says something to me, and then I can do both."