Friday, July 18, 2008

TO MATCH OR NOT TO MATCH, THAT IS THE QUESTION

It's Clipper turn. First they took Baron, next we tried to take Brand but failed, then we took Maggette, now it's there turn to answer by trying to take Azubuike. The Roster War is in full swing this offseason between the Warriors and Clippers. They just signed Azubuike to an offer sheet in the range of $9 mil over 3 years - question is.... do the Golden State Warriors match?

A Case for Matching:
  1. one of the few Warriors that could play good perimeter defense
  2. very good all around game with few weaknesses
  3. numbers are deceivingly average because of season long knee tendinitis
  4. performs in the clutch and makes few mistakes on the court
  5. great work ethic, coachable, no off-court issues
  6. only 24 years old
  7. 3 years / $9 mil is very reasonable, especially if its the typical escalating deal that starts out at around $2.5 mil and peaks at $3.5 mil
  8. knows the system and excels in it
  9. bring back a familiar face in an off-season full of change
  10. one can never have enough talent on the roster no matter how much of an apparent log jam there may be at certain positions
  11. contract and player values are fair and could potentially be a steal for the team if Azubuike continues to get better
  12. could easily be traded or packaged as a deal sweetener because of his youth, talent and reasonable contract
  13. can backup the SG and SF positions
  14. rebounds well from the SG/SF position and does not give up on plays
  15. Clippers get better, while Warriors get worse

A Case for Not Matching:
  1. Warriors have enough depth at the wing positions
  2. $3 mil is too much to pay for Azubuike and will put a dent in our capspace when maximizing cap flexibility will be key in the offseasons of 2010 and 2011.
  3. SG is the easiest positions to fill
  4. matching the offer will stunt the growth of Belinelli and Randolph
  5. he won't improve as much as you think - what you see is pretty much what you'll get
  6. his stats are not that impressive
  7. once he gets his contract, he'll pull a Brian Cardinal and become less than ordinary
  8. save the money and use it on a quality backup PG or sharp shooting big man

Mind of Mullin's Take:

Not too long after joining the Warriors two seasons ago, Azubuike showed that he had what it took to play in the NBA. I had my eye on him in the D-League where he dominated like no other and put up amazing numbers across the board and I was ecstatic to learn that the Warriors had called him up.

I've looked at both sides of the issue and find that the benefits of matching the offer sheet out-weigh letting Azubuike walk. His current productivity and remaining upside is in line with his new salary. The deal is low enough and short enough to get out of via trade even if things don't work out as planned or if there comes an opportunity to improve the team by using Azubuike as a trade asset. It is a low risk, moderate reward type of move.

My biggest concern is that Azubuike's presence will stunt the growth of Belinelli and Randolph by taking their minutes away. This might not necessarily be the case since Azubuike would play most of his minutes backing up the SF position (as he did last year) while Belinelli plays SG and Randolph plays some point PF, a classic Nellie maneuver. What I like about Azubuike the most is that he is a great compliment to Belinelli in that he is a much stronger defender that can be called upon when the Warriors face the Kobe's and Wade's of the NBA. Belinelli would be eaten alive, while Azubuike can make it much more difficult for the top SG's to function as we had seen last year when he limited Kobe in crunch time in their game in LA.

Maggette has a long history of injuries, so it would make sense to have a very capable backup waiting in the wings and not leave it up to a rookie in Anthony Randolph to start at SF just yet. Sure, Jackson could slide over from SG, but that would force the Warriors to shift Monta to SG and leave the PG spot vulnerable. Belinelli could start at SG, but until he proves to me that he can man-up on defense, he will have to come off the bench as instant offense unless the Warriors are facing a team with no scoring threat at the 2.

I think a lot of people are forgetting how explosive a healthy Azubuike can be. After a strong start, he injured his knee and had been playing hurt for much of the season with knee tendinitis. This hindered his performance and weighed down his impact. Judging from Summer workout reports, he has completely healed and is ready to return better than ever. Fans tend to have short memories and the lasting image of a less than healthy Azubuike may lead to clouded judgment and evaluation of talent.

I hope Mullin realizes the pros out-weigh the cons when it comes to matching the Clippers offer sheet. Just because there may or may not be depth issues or logjams in certain positions, that shouldn't stop a team from hanging on to a valuable asset, especially one that is reasonably priced.


H: 6' 5"
W: 208 lbs
Bday: 12/16/1983
(24 Years Old)
SG/SF



2007-2008 Game Log


Kelenna Azubuike '07-'08 Highlight Reel
From: BBJ




Kelenna Azubuike '06-'07 Highlight Reel
From: BBJ

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