Sat down with Warriors GM Larry Riley before the game.
Say what you want about the man, he is present and accountable. He didn’t dodge the media, didn’t skirt any questions, nor did he complain about the negative reaction he’s gotten for his decision. And he clearly explained why he made the decision he made.
The gist: he didn’t do anything to hurt the Warriors plans by waiving Speedy Claxton and his $5.2 million contract. Here are his answers in full (The first two questions were from a season-ticket holder who bogarded our interview. They were good questions):
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.
Today is the last day of forward Anthony Tolliver’s second 10-day contract. Tomorrow, the Warriors have to decide whether they want to sign him for the rest of the season.
A week ago, I would’ve said the Warriors would keep Tolliver and cut center Chris Hunter. They would have to eat the rest of Hunter’s contract as he’s guaranteed for the season, and that would be an usually bold admission of a mistake by the team. But Tolliver was looking much more productive than Hunter, who can hardly get into the game. But Tollliver has tapered off, and his shot still hasn’t gone down consistently — a must for a power forward-type in Nelson’s system. Throw in the success of swingman Coby Karl, and it might add up to Tolliver being let go.
Coach Don Nelson is in love with Karl, who can pass and has rebounded fairly well. Of course, he could taper off as did Hunter and Tolliver, as D-Leaguers do. But he may have done enough to make the Warriors more interested in keeping him than Tolliver. The one feasible move the Warriors have is to cut Hunter (which they may not even want to do since it is eating money). The rest involves the trading valuable assets. Since the trade deadine is so close, I seriously doubt they waste an expiring contract to keep a D-Leaguer.
There is a window though that may allow the Warriors to keep Tolliver and Hunter. Say they waive Hunter and keep Tolliver. That leaves them with no spot for Karl, should they decide they want to keep him for the rest of the season. However, Karl’s second 10-day contract expires after the trade deadline. The Warriors will either have capitalized off their expiring contracts, or they’re going to let them come off the cap anyway. Of course, if Cartier Martin is still available, they may want to pick him up.
Who should the Warriors keep: Hunter, Tolliver or Karl?
Tuesday, I asked Ellis, who has vacation plans that involve fishing, if he would be willing to forgo those plans if he gets the call from the league.
ELLIS: “I’ll think about it,” drawing a chorus of laughs.
Looks like Ellis won’t have to give up his chill time on the water. The league announced today that Commissioner David Stern has pegged Denver Nuggets point guard Chauncey Billups as the All-Star alternate, taking the place of injured New Orleans point guard Chris Paul. Billups’ fifth All-Star appearance means Ellis won’t be making his first.