Now that Nate Robinson story time is out of the way, it’s time to pinpoint exactly why the Golden State Warriors would go from targeting a 7-foot foul machine (Kyrylo Fesenko) to a 5-9 bowling ball of energy. Are the Warriors looking for anyone with NBA experience to fill a roster spot and the $1 million or so they have available, or is there a plan in place?
There’s been plenty of speculation (as there always is) about whether signing Robinson means a transaction of greater consequence will follow. Like a trade of Monta Ellis, for instance. Others are wondering if this is a statement of disappointment among the Warriors’ brass over the production so far from Klay Thompson, Ish Smith and/or Charles Jenkins.
While it’s fun to come up with theories, I don’t know if we can assume the Warriors look that deeply into things. From what we’ve seen so far, the Warriors take the “one game at a time” cliché and translate it to their own transactions. One player at a time, build a team that’s stronger tomorrow than it is today. Then if the player added actually weakens the squad (picture Al Thornton), cast that player aside and add someone else.
The Warriors have been two teams this year: a defense-focused reincarnation of their former selves that can win if the opposing team’s harassed into a bad shooting night, or a boring, offensively inefficient team searching for some sort of identity. My favorite explanation for the Robinson move (which still isn’t official, by the way) comes from Marcus Thompson II (emphasis mine):
Perhaps the biggest concern is how Robinson will effect team chemistry. Robinson is certainly a charismatic fella to say the least. Depending on the perspective, he’s either fun-loving or plays too much, passionate or selfish. Certainly, throwing him into the Warriors’ mellow and somewhat bland locker room will be interesting. Could be problematic.
The locker room was pretty mellow and bland last year too, with the only levity (or noise at all, besides David Lee talking nonstop) coming whenever Dorell Wright’s young son strutted around as if he owned the place.
This brings us to Mark Jackson, a passionate person who was known during his playing days for toughness. A wallflower he is not.
I think Jackson looks at his team and sees a group of nice players who are eager to please, but are badly in need of a spark. Not that the Warriors aren’t trying or playing hard, but the lack of aggression and fight in that blowout loss to the Sixers had to be alarming. Same with how terrible they looked without Monta Ellis in Phoenix. Some more from MT2:
Another reason: I’m told Mark Jackson is a fan.
He is almost the opposite of how Jackson was as a player. But Jackson, a former Knick, probably saw a lot of Robinson while he was with the Knicks. No question, Robinson was a favorite in New York for those years.
From what I’m told, Jackson likes Robinson’s toughness and energy. Golden State can certainly use some of that.
Here’s another thing Jackson might like, besides the challenge of taming a player who’s seen by many as too immature, too boisterous, perhaps even unstable: Robinson seems to have found religion, or at least he’s more vocal about it than ever before. While my wife’s story from Robinson’s days at UW tells a somewhat different tale from his younger days, if you take a look at Robinson’s Twitter timeline lately it’s laced with references to God. It’s all part of Robinson’s image rehabilitation since taking a buyout from the Oklahoma City Thunder (and getting hammered in Shaq’s recent book as someone who cares too much about publicity), something he seems quite serious about in an interview with Sam Amick:
It is, Robinson vows, time to turn the page on the past and forge a new chapter.
“One team’s trash is another team’s treasure,” he said. “With whatever team that I land on they know they’re going to get everything out of me. I’m going to come to practice early — first one there, last one to leave.
“I work hard every day, practice every day and play hard in games whether it’s one minute, 10 minutes, 30 minutes or 40 minutes. … I’m going to always cheer for my teammates, as everybody sees all the time. I’ll be the first guy off the bench, congratulating my guys or picking them up off the floor — doing everything a player is supposed to do.”
Don’t be surprised to see the Warriors take on several reclamation projects like Robinson during Jackson’s tenure. Jackson seems like someone who considers apathy the worst possible sin on the court and in the locker room. Remember, as pious as Jackson is, he wasn’t against celebrating on court with a little shimmy every now and then. To build something in Golden State that people want to be a part of, the Warriors need to have more fun. Robinson will certainly help there.
Jackson also has the confidence to believe he’s the one who can get the 17 ppg Robinson back after a couple lost years, especially if Robinson’s heart and mind are ready to put his well-known fire and passion to good use. And even if those game-changing, instant offense days are over for Robinson, at least he’ll bring some attitude and fight to a team and bench that’s spent the season’s first five games quietly chatting amongst themselves, almost afraid to make too much noise.