Al Harrington

NBA Tuesday: Oh crap, Speedy wants to play

Introducing the Golden State Warriors, a team whose most recent problem is the veteran point guard they just traded for actually is healthy enough to play. Marcus Thompson II (who I’m pretty sure is the only actual beat writer covering the team these days, since Matt Steinmetz has gone national) reported last night that he talked to Speedy Claxton, and Speedy says he’s totally recovered from his torn hamstring and wants to play next year.

The Warriors, led by alleged tax-evader Chris Cohan, hoped to watch Claxton fade into the sunset and retire, which would have meant that 80% of Speedy’s $5.2 million salary would have been paid for via insurance. I think we all have our suspicions that the Warriors’ priorities have been to maximize profitability first, with winning a distant second, but Chris Cohan himself explained this amazingly well on his blog (well, it isn’t exactly his blog, but this is still a great explanation):

All told, the Harrington – Crawford – Claxton/Law shuffle will put $5 million or more into Cohan’s pocket with absolutely no on-court talent upgrade and no chance of any further acquisitions. Claxton’s contract is largely covered by insurance and the team laundered $1.4 million in fan donations to Cohan’s tax shelter between the Harrington and Crawford dumps.

Monta Ellis was fined $3 million for riding a motorcycle or a scooter or protecting his brother or jumping a crack dealer or WHATEVER he did last summer while Stephen Jackson “was with Monta all summer.” That money was supposed to go back to ticket-buying customers.

Anyway, I count $8 million there, straight into Cohan’s pocket, no team improvement whatsoever to show for it. In fact, we made it worse. Ellis hates Rowell and Nelson, Law and Claxton are standing between fans and any glimmer of hope the team will pick up anything of use for the regular season (all roster spots accounted for as of now, barring some waiver or buy out… holding our breath). And the team is now/still based upon personal agendas, player attacks (Maggette next?), and general penny-pinching non-basketball BS.

Money aside, the Warriors still don’t have a legitimate point guard, and the Warriors certainly don’t look like they will go and grab a guy like Ramon Sessions — especially since they’ve made it clear they want to save money by only having 14 guys under contract when 15 are allowed, even though they had such a tough time dressing enough players last year due to injuries that Tim Roye made an April Fool’s joke on air that Jim Barnett had been signed to a 10-day contract…and for 30 seconds I believed it.

That’s right, the Warriors have saved money through giving away Jason Richardson (and not using the trade exception that came with Brandan Wright), Al Harrington/Jamal Crawford and Monta Ellis’ dignity, and as Bill Simmons recently wrote, they still have a decent core except for one little thing:

In a two-year stretch marred by incompetence, indifference and poor public relations, they somehow ended up with a nucleus of Andris Biedrins, Anthony “The Breakout” Randolph, Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry, Brandon (sic) Wright, Stephen Jackson and Corey Maggette that looks orgasmically exciting on paper … well, until you remember there isn’t a distributor in the mix.

I’d probably switch out Wright and Maggette (I still don’t know if Wright will ever realize his potential under Don Nelson, or if Maggette will ever fully recover from his post-concussion syndrome) for Anthony Morrow and Ronny Turiaf, but not even the original “Sports Guy” knows everything about the NBA (although I can’t argue the fact that he knows way more than I do about Almost Famous).

It’s sad that the Warriors will be exciting enough to keep the fans coming and spending $$$, but they’re fundamentally flawed due to their refusal to obtain a real point guard, devote their energy to becoming a better defensive team or spend any of the money they’ve made or saved over the past few years. Until the Warriors are under new ownership, the Warriors are doomed to play interesting, albeit losing, basketball. As the Grateful Dead once sang, “I may be going to hell in a bucket, babe…But at least I’m enjoying the ride.” Well, sort of.

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