M-Will a Warrior

Just confirmed the NY Post article that the Warriors have traded a conditional first-rounder to the Nets for Marcus Williams, the former UConn star. Looks like the Warriors have found their PG to back-up Monta.
He’s not as fast as you’d like, but he’s creative with the ball, has a solid outside shot and is a sure ball-handler. He can start if necessary and won’t be much of a drop off.
This could be a sign that the Warriors will probably match Kelenna Azubuike’s offer sheet with the Clippers. Adding Williams’ $1.2 million salary for this season doesn’t hurt their chances of adding Azubuike. They still can add another one. But the fact that they did it before the seven days were up suggests they are trying to get their last few moves in before exhausting most of their remaining cap space on Azubuike.


Barnes to Phoenix

Matt Barnes told me tonight he is signing with the Suns, a one-year deal for the league minimum ($926,678) .
This ends the deteriorated relationship between Barnes and the Warriors. Just two seasons ago, he was the man, the key role player in their success. He played defense, rebounded, committed the hard fouls, knocked down shots, played with energy — everything the Warriors needed. He was nearly as important to the Warriors’ postseason success in 2007 as Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson.
He certainly didn’t play the same last season, and for good reason (the death of his mother, disappointment from not getting a contract, Nellie constantly on his case). Still, I would’ve liked to see him stay. Not only for my benefit (Barnes is one of the most down-to-earth athletes I’ve ever met). But I think he could’ve helped the Warriors. He knows the system. He fits the style. He’s experienced. He would’ve been cheap, much cheaper than the $3-plus million he got last year. He also would’ve been hungry, coming off a disappointing year.
The reality is, though, I don’t think Nellie wants him around. Nellie had a thing against Barnes. His turnovers burned Nellie more. For some reason, his bad shots really infuriated Nellie. Which is wierd, considering how many bad shots the Warriors take. Barnes knew it.
Based on every conversation we’ve had, Barnes would stay with the Warriors if they made him an offer. He loved it here. He’s a Bay Area guy. The system fits his game. He’s tight with his teammates. And it’s not like he’s getting more money elsewhere. The Warriors can afford to pay him the minimum. Which leads me to believe they didn’t make him an offer.


The Sleeper? DeMarcus Nelson

One guy who’s been ripping it up in practice is former Duke guard and Vallejo native DeMarcus Nelson. I watched most of practice on Thursday, and he was dominant. He threw down one tomahawk dunk that shocked me a bit, then he almost broke the rim trying to dunk on like three big men. He also knocked down open shots, ran the offense, got to the basket, scored in traffic, defended C.J. Watson. He looked really good.
He’s getting it done in games, he just doesn’t get many minutes behind Marco Belinelli. He’s averaging 5.3 points in 10 minutes.
“That’s all I want is a chance,” Nelson said after Tuesday’s practice. “That’s what I’ve been working for … Summer league has been good. I’ve been playing well. I’ve been trying to do everything they ask me to do, and at the same time demonstrate what I can do. It’s been great. I love the guys. I love the system here, and we’re 3-0.”
Nelson will stick with the Warriors’ summer league squad in Utah. He said he felt good about his chances of being invited to training camp in October.
One thing that really stands out about him is his hunger. He plays with an aggressive urgency, like he knows he has something to prove. It can hurt him some, as he tries to do too much (four turnovers in 10 minutes vs. Dallas). But the dude has a chip on his shoulder. He doesn’t understand why he’s in this situation, struggling trying to make training camp. It only took one question for him to let loose.
Question: Did not getting drafted shake your confidence?
Answer: “It didn’t shake my confidence in who I was. It just frustrated me because I had a great senior season. I don’t think anybody else in the country had a better senior season than me. I don’t think anybody had the pressures of leading their team every night, defending the best offensive player (point guard through power forward), scoring, being the leading scorer, being the leading defensive player, and then still setting up your teammates on the offensive side. I had to do that every night for me team. There was not one player who had that type of responsibility. And then going into predraft, I played well at Orlando, second-leading scorer at camp. And then workouts, I went against some of the top guys and had great workouts. Everywhere I went, I had a good showing. So the draft was tough for me because it didn’t feel like I was fully appreciated for what I do. It never shook my confidence in who I am. But it just more so ignited a passion, a deeper passion, a fire.”
Many people talk about how these athletes should stay in school. He did. All four years. At Duke. He has experience under pressure, in big games, playing a key role. His body is developed. He knows his strengths and weaknesses.
He is somewhat undersized for a shooting guard (6-foot-4, 200 pounds), and not really a point guard (though he can handle well). Other than that, I think he’s good enough to play in the NBA, and probably worth keeping around to see if he develops.
With the Mickael Pietrus gone, and Kelenna Azubuike possibly on his way out, and Marco Belinelli moving up in the rotation, the Warriors need a competitive practice player and someone who can play spot minutes. Maybe he turns out to be a player.


Ronny’s Waiting Just Like Us

Caught up with Ronny Turiaf this morning. He declined to talk about the Warriors since nothing is official. But guess what he was doing? Chilling.
“It’s a normal day for me, playing with my daughter,” he said. “Only difference is I’m sitting by the phone waiting on a call.”
Didn’t sound at all as if he knew what the verdict was, which means the Lakers aren’t giving any indication. This thing could play out until the final hour.
FYI, it was reported that Thursday was the day the Lakers had to match. But it’s actually today. Turiaf signed the offer sheet last Thursday, but the Lakers didn’t get it until Friday. They have until midnight to match.


Azubuike a Goner?

A couple sources have informed me that Warriors restricted free agent guard Kelenna Azubuike has signed an offer sheet with the L.A. Clippers, meaning he could join Baron Davis in his relocation to Southern Cali. A source close to Azubuike said its a three-year deal
worth $3 million a year. I got wind of it last night and got confirmation today. Azubuike’s signing comes a day after James Posey, the most sought after swingman left in the free agent class, signed with the Hornets. While one could make a case that Azubuike
was the best swingman available, he
was so far down on the Warriors’ priority list that they probably wouldn’t have been able to sign him before August – after Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins are signed, and maybe after they pulled a trade.
The Clippers had about $3M in cap space left. Because Azubuike is restricted, the Warriors will have seven days to match. According to a team source, the team had yet to receive the signed offer sheet.


Some Things I’m Hearing …

Talked to various NBA types today at summer league (agents, coaches, GMs). I think some of the stuff in the rumor mill is interesting, so I’m assuming you would, too …

* There is NO WAY the Lakers match the Warriors offer to Ronny Turiaf. He is going to be a Warrior. Heard that a few times. It makes sense to me. It costs the Lakers too much. Oddly enough, the Turiaf signing impacts Ron Artest. Turiaf’s departure would create a role for Kenny Thomas, who is expected to be part of any deal between the Lakers and Kings.

* Believe it or not, I’ve heard twice now that the Warriors made a last-ditch effort to sign Baron. The day of the press conference where Baron annoucned his signing, I was told they called and said they would match. Baron rejected, obviously. You guys had been asking about the offers he got … one offer I was told about today was for Baron to opt out, take a base contract of five years for $50 million with a partial guarantee for the fourth year and no guarantee for the fifth year, plus about $5M worth of incentives. So only some $30 million was guaranteed over three years — after he opted out of the $18 million.
Is it accurate to call that a “low-ball” offer? I know Baron wanted security more than anything, so I can definitely see where he would’ve thought so.

* You’ve probably read stories coming out of Miami and Cleveland about sign-and-trades involving Monta. The Warriors would CONSIDER such for two players – Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. Anybody else, don’t buy it. It is so far from the truth. No way they lose Baron and Monta in the same summer.

* There were some whispers about Anthony Randolph sitting out the rest of summer league with that sprained left ankle. But Warriors assistant coach Keith Smart said Randolph could play Friday. If he had his way, he would’ve played Tuesday against Charlotte. But he wasn’t cleared by the medical staff.

* Don’t be surprised if Harrington sticks around for another year. He has an opt out clause next offseason. He could walk away from the last year ($10M) of his current deal. The reason he may have to wait until then? It’s no secret that Mulllin is a huge fan of Harrington. He went after him for a while before actually getting him, and word is that he’s not so keen on giving him up. The Warriors might consider it more sensible to use Harrington the right way – as more than a spot up shooter, but as a slasher, in the post, in isolations – than to trade him.


View from Las Vegas

Here are some observations from summer league:

* Thaddeus Young is a beast

* Part of the Warriors coaching staff, including Don Nelson, were watching the Philly-Lakers game. But they left early, making a special trip to the Hornets-Spurs game. They were going to look at a certain point guard who’s been turning heads (15.3 points, 6.0 assists).

*Brandan Wright didn’t look as good as I’d thought. He was good, but he didn’t look as in control as I’d hope. Certainly wasn’t dominant. Marco Belinelli and C.J. Watson were clearly the best players, the most in control and the most dominant. Wright made a couple of plays here and there, but he wasn’t a baller out there.
A lot of it has to do with the summer league style of play. Lots of hacking. Little strategy. Short on talent. It takes some offensive creativity to flourish. At this point, Wright is a system player. He needs the help to get going, which means he needs an offense that includes him and good teammates around him. He’s not going to take over on his own.

* C.J. looked good, especially in the first half. I was eager to see him. I’m thinking he could be the back-up point guard. Sure, there are better guys out there (more expensive, too). But I would feel even better about him after watching him. He was aggressive, productive on both ends. He looked sure of himself, no sign of the nerves we saw last season. He can score. He’s been showing some of his passing skills. He’s still a bit too quiet on the court. If he’s that way in the summer league, how’s he going to calm down Stephen Jackson.

*Marco has an unbelievable stroke. But he doesn’t look good handling the ball. I know Nellie wants him to run some point. He handled the ball a lot against the Bobcats, and he didn’t look comfortable at all. Washington State guard Kyle Weaver had Marco all rattled, even picked his pocket twice.