New Paths to Helicon
Preetom Bhattacharya of hoopsworld.com is reporting that the Warriors will sign Matt Barnes tomorrow to a one-year contract (article found via GSoM). Once it looked like Mullin had no chance of getting Garnett, I made it clear that I think resigning Barnes--particularly for just a year or two--would be the best move for this offseason. Now that it looks like things have turned out exactly that way, I don't think I have much to add on the Barnes subject, but the way that the Warriors have gone about their free agent business this offseason bears some deeper analysis. Along with the recent signing of Austin Croshere for one season, the Barnes deal exhibits the foresight that Mullin has brought to his dealings this summer.
As I said last month, Barnes is a much better option than Mickael Pietrus for the Warriors if only because he appears to have turned into a decent outside shooter. (No idea what happens with Pietrus now, by the way. I wouldn't mind seeing him signed-and-traded along with Sarunas Jasikevicius or Patrick O'Bryant, though. Doesn't matter who we get in return.) Barnes also becomes an important rotation player when he contributes the sort of floor game he did in last year's playoffs, although I wouldn't run to Vegas to bet on that becoming a regular occurrence.
It's that uncertainty surrounding Barnes's play last year that left him few options other than to take the Warriors' offer. Most teams likely took issue with Barnes being a probable "system player," but I applaud Mullin for not buying that Barnes is a sure thing just because he was successful last season. Barnes was good, but his season still had its valleys. The one-year deal gives the Warriors the chance to judge if Barnes can be consistent while also giving him the chance to make big money on the open market next season.
The other recent deal by the Warriors shows similar smarts. To be sure, I'm not ecstatic about Austin Croshere considering KG's name has been thrown around the whole summer,
but I don't see many bad things about this signing. Basketball-wise, Croshere can hit some threes and has experience playing with Nelson. As Say Hey said a few days ago, it might have made more sense for Nelson to take a chance on a possible sleeper, but I really don't see anything awful about picking up an older player, either. Croshere was considered especially bad when he was with the Mavericks because he was way, way overpaid. That's not an issue now that he's been signed for the veteran minimum. (The one thing I really don't get about this deal is that Baron and Croshere are known to dislike each other. Hopefully they'll get things right during camp.)
Evidence now suggests that Mullin focused on giving the team long-term flexibility once the Garnett deal fell through. (Actually, taken out of the Garnett context, everything from this summer seems to have been about keeping the future open.) Given the options, these one-year contracts are exactly what Mullin needed to do. This next season likely won't result in a better finish than the conference semifinals, but nothing short of Garnett would have bettered last year's showing. Golden State still has an excellent shot at making the playoffs next season, especially now that Elton Brand will be gone until February at the earliest.
Most importantly, giving people long-term contracts would have been a problem considering that Nelson probably won't be back in 08-09. I would bet that the team hires another coach who likes to run, but no one does anything close to what Nellie does, so creating the roster of the future based on his specifications would be a mistake. As I've said before, with a lot of important players coming off the books next summer (even Adonal will turn into an expiring contract!), Mullin can mold the next version of the Warriors without having to worry about players picked specifically for Nellieball.
One other Warriors-related note: everyone should check out this immeasurably terrible LA Times article on Baron's respective relationships with Oakland and LA. Fear the Beard and Tom Ziller have both written excellent reactions, so I will defer to them for analysis. I just can't believe Kurt Streeter's editors published this monstrosity.