Thursday, July 17, 2008


July in the NBA: Anything But Summer Vacation
Adam Lauridsen / Fast Break

....I’m keeping my fingers crossed until tomorrow evening that the tax hit from Ronny Turiaf will keep the Lakers from matching the Warriors’ offer. The more I run through scenarios, the happier I am with the Turiaf deal (which I liked to begin with). Under scenario 1, the roster stays as it is now and Ronny splits time as a back-up center and power forward, mixing lots of hustle, rebounding, and defense with a bit of opportunistic scoring. He’s ideal counter-programming to the guys in front of him in the depth chart at both spots. Under scenario 2, the Warriors trade Harrington and continue to wait on Wright’s body to fill out. In the meantime, Turiaf might get the call to start at power forward. His presence next to Andris, again, is highly complementary. The Warriors would also sport something looking like a properly proportioned line-up with Ronny up front. Coming off the bench, either Wright or Randolph could be great changes of pace. Regardless of the path the Warriors take, Turiaf provides a young, still improving piece on a diminishing salary. He’ll likely be a key rotation player if here next year and has an easily tradeable contract should his game mysteriously disappear upon arrival (once again, looking at you Derek Fisher).

....Back in Oakland, negotiations should heat up with Monta and Andris as money disappears from the free agent market and the Warriors’ open offer to Turiaf is resolved. The list of teams with money to throw at either above the mid-level exception is dwindling quickly. The Camby trade makes it even less likely a team will try to drive up their value. The challenge for Mullin, now likely bidding against himself, will be to find that sweet spot where the deal is not so low as to be insulting but not so high as to be completely ignorant to the fact that other teams likely can’t offer either player more than a starting $ 6 mil a year deal. Starting at $6.1 million would be a slap in the face to both players, but we should also be taking the starting $10-12 mil deals off the table.

Mid-Day Report:
Jason Fleming / Hoopsworld

Suns, Warriors Want PG: Shaun Livingston and Sam Cassell are a couple of the names many teams seem to be saying they are interested in giving a look to for a reserve point guard position. In reality there are other teams who want a PG besides just the Phoenix Suns and the Golden State Warriors, and there is other, better talent available.

If the Portland Trail Blazers decide to sign Petteri Koponen – playing well at NBA Summer League in Las Vegas – Sergio Rodriguez could quickly become available for relatively cheap.

If Stephon Marbury gets released by the New York Knicks, he could have a chance to re-build some of the career that once had him as a multiple All-Star. There will be a few teams willing to give him a chance for cheap, because the potential return on investment is high.

The Memphis Grizzlies also might be showcasing Javaris Crittenton, a talented point guard who can score and dish, for a trade.

Either Earl Watson or Luke Ridnour, with first round pick Russell Westbrook impressing everyone in the Orlando Summer League, is eminently available. Both are very experienced and while they would both like to start, a change of scenery would be nice on its own. Both can shoot and pass, but play little defense.

Delonte West is another player who can play a solid backup point guard and is a good defender and shooter, even if he isn't the classic distributor.

Given those names available, taking a risk on the knee of Livingston or the age of Cassell – after his less than stellar play in the NBA playoffs with champion Boston – seem like odd choices.

Former Duke guard tries to secure NBA roster spot
McClatchy News Service

Nelson is playing only about 10 minutes per game in Las Vegas. Draft picks get priority and second-year Warriors, C.J. Watson and Marco Belinelli, are the starting guards.

In two games at the point, Nelson has grabbed one rebound with three assists and five turnovers and made three of five shots and three of four free throws.

"The knock on him is his shooting," Smart said. "As a smaller guard, you have to get your shot off so everyone respects you on the floor. That will be the most important part of his development."

Nelson has a decent shot with the Warriors because Golden State has three open roster spots.

"I have to be prepared to do anything," he said. "All the feedback I'm getting says I'm an NBA-caliber player destined to play in the league. I can only be who I am. I just need an opportunity. When I get it, it'll be the perfect one."

Warriors' 'Quiet Storm,' Watson, hopes to make some noise
Marcus Thompson II / Oakland Tribune

Through three summer league games, he's averaged 17 points, 4.3 assists and 4.3 steals. He's also averaging nine field goal attempts and 10.6 free-throw attempts, a contrast that illustrates his aggressiveness at getting to the basket.

"We know who he is. We know what he can do," said Warriors assistant coach Keith Smart, the coach of the summer league squad. "He's improved a lot. He's doing what he needs to do."

Smart added that Watson has become much more decisive, a requirement in Nelson's system, and has displayed a noticeable improvement in court vision.

Chris Mullin, the Warriors' executive vice president of basketball operations, has said he's looking for a point guard who also can play some shooting guard. At 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, Watson doesn't fit the mold of a typical NBA shooting guard. But he's been a scorer all of his career and played most of his minutes last season alongside, and not behind, Davis.

Pistons' Dumars is on the case

Terry Foster / The Detroit News

He believes there is a 50-50 chance something will happen before training camp. Dumars is not allowed to talk about players on other teams. But he reconfirmed that all players on his team are up for grabs, but he refuses to give them away in a fire sale.

That is why the rumors that the Pistons would send guard Chauncey Billups to Golden State for center Andris Biedrins are so far-fetched. The Warriors play a running style and Billups is a power point guard who excels in half-court situations and cannot keep up in up-tempo situations.

The other factor is Dumars puts high value in point guards and apparently wouldn't consider trading him straight up for Biedrins, a 6-foot-11 center. He started 59 of 76 games and averaged 10.5 points and 9.8 rebounds.

Vegas chatter: Trades, restricted free agents and the Artest sweepstakes
Mark Stein / ESPN

The Memphis Grizzlies are the last team with salary-cap space to throw at the likes of Smith, Okafor, Deng, Philadelphia's Andre Iguodala, Golden State's Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins, Chicago's Ben Gordon and Atlanta's Josh Childress. But the Grizzlies have made it clear they aren't spending any of that money this summer, content to field trade offers for guards Kyle Lowry and Javaris Crittenton and maybe even 2007 first-round pick Mike Conley.

So the league's top restricteds can only create leverage to either secure the level of compensation they desire or force a sign-and-trade by threatening to sign a one-year qualifying offer that would lead to unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2009.

Who will succeed?

Iguodala was in Vegas early in the summer league to watch the 76ers play and sounded, even before the Clippers had landed Camby, like he was expecting to go nowhere. "If I stay," Iguodala said, "we're going to be a great team. We're going to keep getting better as a young group with Elton."

The Warriors are likewise expected to re-sign Ellis (very soon) and Biedrins without any significant threat, while Gordon already was a well-chronicled candidate to be traded, irrespective of the tight market for restricteds, unless the Bulls decide to move Kirk Hinrich instead.

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