-Update: The Warriors have matched the Clippers offer to Kelenna Azuibuke, meaning that the Maurice Evans signing will more than likely not occur. Also, a contract settlement with Monta Ellis is near, with a rumored 5 year deal allowing Ellis to enter Unrestricted Free Agency while still quite young.
-Update: Evidently Evans is balking at the contract offer and hoping to get more money out of the Warriors. If he won’t settle for the roughly $2.1/year, the Warriors will likely match Azuibuke’s offer sheet. The deadline for this is Friday at midnight, so things should shake out pretty soon.
In a previous column I assumed that a trade to acquire a starting quality point guard could not happen without the team losing a valuable asset. Though I allowed for exceptions due to GM Chris Mullin’s creativity, I speculated that Al Harrington would not bring us a PG or quality and that we’d have to give something to get something. Well it turns out that there’s a loophole in this line of reasoning – players who would be substantially better in Don Nelson’s system as opposed to the system they are currently in. This applies pretty well to Marcus Williams, the Nets backup PG on the last year of his contract. Williams was the planned heir to Jason Kidd in New Jersey, but things never panned out. Frustration and a poor environment for his skills prompted the Nets to trade him for a heavily conditional first round pick and a small trade exception of roughly $2-3 million. Today, Williams isn’t a starter quality PG, but in a new system he might approach that level and be an excellent complementary player.
It is a fantastic move for the Warriors because Williams fits well next to Monta Ellis – he’s big enough to guard the SGs that Monta would be outmatched against, and he can handle the ball well enough to allow Monta to play at his natural SG position. When both of these players are in the game, one would expect that Maggette would play the 3 and Jackson would get rest, since he seemed to suffer from fatigue during the season.
As for Maurice Evans, I’m satisfied with the signing provided that Evans does three things well. 1. Defend. Evans has been a quality defender at every stop, and his ability to hassle opposing wing players could be extremely useful, considering Maggette’s history of sub-par defensive efforts. 2. Rebound. Evans has great athletic ability and should use it to crash the boards as much as possible. 3. Hit the open 3. If Evans can keep his excellent outside shooting pace, we’ll have 2 reserves who can hit outside shots – Evans and Belinelli. The Warriors relied on spacing the past two seasons, and that can’t happen without players who will take and make a corner 3pt without hesitation.
Evans has been talked about as an athletic freak at every stop he’s made in the league. I remember watching him on the Lakers when the team was particularly bad – his defensive and rebounding skills were always an advantage, but his athletic gifts were wildly overrated. Not that he doesn’t have them, just that they don’t translate into anything more than a few eye-popping dunks from time to time. Evans doesn’t have the ball-handling skills to truly take advantage of his athleticism, but if he could find a way to add them in Nellie’s open offense, we could see a good value turn into an off-season steal.
These signings don’t put us in the playoffs, but in the NBA depth is a double edged sword. As we saw last year, with superstars but no depth, a team is doomed to running out of gas. But with only depth and no superstars, a team is condemned to mediocrity. If this is truly the case, all eyes should be on our young prospects. Without Randolph, Wright, and Belinelli blossoming, all the depth in the world won’t save us.