I have not talked to GM Larry Riley, so I haven’t gotten his explanation. But I’m going to go out on a limb and say this is his first unadulterated bad decision as a GM.
The rest of his moves, I understand the reasoning. I may not have done them, but I get the logic. The Warriors made room for forward Anthony Tolliver on the roster by waiving point guard Speedy Claxton, who is injured and hasn’t played all season. Yes, they did. Giving up Claxton’s $5.2 million expiring contract, a valuable bartering tool, 12 days before the trade deadline for an NBA Development League call-up is just bad.
I don’t get the logic behind it. The contracts of Claxton and Raja Bell ($5.25) gave the Warriors $10 million worth of expiring contracts to use on the trade market. Throw in Devean George ($1.6), and the Warriors had $12 million to trade with.
Maybe Riley read the trade room and realized he wasn’t going to make a trade. Maybe there just isn’t a market for expiring contracts, usually a hot commodity, so he decided he could do just as much with only about $7 million worth instead of $12. Maybe he is infatuated with forward Anthony Tolliver, or center Chris Hunter. If all those are true, you still keep the expiring contract.
The Warriors have now given up $6.5 million in expiring contracts to keep NBA Development League call-ups. Don’t forget, they gave up Mikki Moore’s $1.3 million expiring contact to keep Hunter.
Here were three, I think, much better options, in order of preference:
* Let Tolliver go and sign a different D-Leaguer to a 10-day contract. Tolliver’s got some skill, but he’s in the D-League for a reason. He’s not a difference maker. He’s not going to win games for the Warriors this year or next year. He’s averaging 5.3 rebounds in 25.2 minutes, which is nothing to go insane over. He’s 4-for-28 from 3-point range (14.3 percent), which means he probably can’t fit in Nellie’s system anyway, which needs the PF to shoot the 3 to spread the floor. Nellie doesn’t play Vlad because he’s shooting 26.7 percent! Tolliver is a nice young player, but there are plenty more out there.
* Cut Chris Hunter. It’s much easier to eat the $199K they will be paying Hunter for the rest of the season than to cash in a valuable chip. Hunter has proven that this is not the team for him. He’s not rebounding (1.8 in 10.2 minutes), he’s not finishing (46.4 percent) and he doesn’t run the floor well enough. He’s good against huge centers, good relative to what the Warriors have. But keeping him around for Marc Gasol is hardly worth it. There was a reason Keith Smart didn’t play him. Now Nellie is not playing him.
* Cut Devean George. He is a great guy and a super professional. But cashing in a $1.6 million expiring contract is easier to swallow than a $5.2 million one. You’d probably be doing George a favor by cutting him and picking up another 10-day guy. Go get Reggie Williams or Alexander Johnson.