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Warriors Will Waive Raja to Make Room for Reggie

(Updated with Nellie quotes) Small forward Reggie Williams, as expected, will be signed for the rest of the season. Tonight’s game at Memphis is his last game on his second 10-day contract, which expires Monday. The Warriors can either sign him for the rest of the season or let him walk. It’s a no-brainer.

GM LARRY RILEY: “I think he’s played well enough. He certainly has a good upside. We want to keep him as we move forward. … He fits very well with Nellie’s system because he’s the kind of a guy who looks to pass, who can put it on the floor and get to the basket, and he can make a shot. He works at defense. He’s not a great defender, but he’s not an embarrassment.”

To make room for Williams, since the Warriors have 15 guys under contract, the Warriors will part ways with guard Raja Bell. Though they hope it’s temporary.

The Warriors chose Bell over the other obvious option, forward Devean George, for two reasons: 1. Because George is playing and Bell is not; and, 2. Because Bell was cool with it.

RAJA BELL: “I completely understand. If nothing else, I consider myself a professional. I never want to come off as a spoiled, coddled, NBA player. The fact is, I’m not playing this year. … I can’t expect you to hold on to me for my Bird rights when you’re playing with eight players.”

George has been logging consistent minutes since the start of February. He’s played some small forward and power forward for the injury-depleted Warriors. He’s knocked down some outside shots, used his veteran savvy to get in the way of some of the big-time perimeter-oriented forwards the Warriors have seen. He’s been the consummate pro in the locker room, even in the ear of Anthony Randolph.

RILEY: “I just can’t cut a healthy player. And Devean George has played well.”

George had 18 points in the near win at New Orleans earlier this month. He had 13 in a close loss to the Lakers. He had 8 points and 5 rebounds in the come-from-behind win over visiting New Orleans on Wednesday. Nellie said the game changed when he put George in.

BELL: “I just told my wife, ‘Devean George is playing well.'”

DON NELSON: “Devean George has been terrific on this team. Just a very important factor as far as the guys coming out playing hard. He’s just been a sensational guy in our locker room and has held things through hard times. Out of respect, we didn’t want to have to waive him.”

Riley might have had to cut George had Bell felt differently about being waived. But Riley got a break, as Bell was all for the move.

Bell  not only endorsed it, he ensured Riley that the Warriors releasing him would have no bearing on whether he would re-sign with the Warriors this offseason.

Bell said he decided last week not to return. He said his left wrist has made a lot of progress, but he’s not to the point where a hard fall or a stiff jam wouldn’t put him back to square one. He said even if the Warriors let him go in time to sign with a team headed to the playoffs, he wouldn’t have gone. He didn’t have enough confidence his wrist was 100 percent healthy. Bell said it is best for him to use this time to rehab and come back at full strength.

BELL: “I’ve made a lot of progress. I’m probably ahead of schedule. But it’s not to the point where I feel I’m ready to play and be the kind of player I want to be. The reward is not worth the risk. I’m not sure I’d be willing to risk it even for a playoff team”

Golden State give up its Bird Rights for Bell. But it doesn’t matter much. Sure, he can’t get 10.5 percent raises, or a sixth year. But he wasn’t going to get that anyway. Since the Warriors have a midlevel exception, they will probably be able to pay as much as anyone. (Obviously, someone can come out of nowhere and blow the Warriors out of the table. But Raja made $5.2 million this year. If someone wants to give him a raise after this season, I’m sure Larry Riley would let them have Raja).

Bell said he would definitely consider the Warriors.

BELL: “Provided we’re comparing apples to apples, Golden State would definitely be an option. It’s better than being a free agent  and just talking to them on the phone. I had a great experience. I’ve seen how they operate. If and when they call, I will already have insight into the organization. I had a great experience there.”

NELLIE: “We would like to sign him if the numbers are right. We’ll get in line. I hope there’s a lot o people that bid for him, for his sake, and we’ll see what the numbers are. We’d love to have him.”

Marcus Thompson