OAKLAND – They added a backup, and one who will play behind the best player on the team at that, an obvious and important perspective. The Warriors got a Jordan, but not Michael. A Celtic, but a 2013-14 model.
The Golden State move to improve the bench was acquiring Jordan Crawford from Boston on Wednesday, along with MarShon Brooks, as part of a three-team trade that also included Miami. Splashy it was not, not after weeks of talks around the league that included the likes of Andre Miller and Kirk Hinrich, players with bigger names and longer resumés. Neither was it the direct hit of getting a dependable distributor to run the offense when Stephen Curry sits or to ride together in the same backcourt and allow Curry to play off the ball.
But it was good. The Warriors essentially gave up nothing, sending only Toney Douglas to the Heat and got the chance for something. Crawford in particular, and maybe Brooks, will be a scoring punch for the bench that ranks last in the league in points. The move may also provide an energy infusion after a half-season of Douglas, who averaged 11 minutes per game and shot 37.2 percent, seeming lost as a regrettable free-agent signing.
In a Western Conference race so tight that the little things could turn into a big difference, the Warriors just got a lot of little things. They needed bench help in general and in the backcourt in particular, and got Crawford averaging 13.7 points and a career-high 5.7 assists as he served as Boston’s injury replacement at the point for the injured Rajon Rondo. Golden State was 26th in the league in free-throw accuracy at the time of the trade, and it got Crawford, who is shooting 87.3 percent this season and owns an 82.7 career mark. Those numbers give the Warriors another option for late-game situations.
Plus, the Warriors did it without surrendering players on rookie deals, a goal, or future first-rounders. Amazingly, they still have other options at their disposal. With five weeks before the trade deadline, they have one trade exception worth $11 million, another at $4 million and approximately $2.2 million of spending room before reaching the luxury tax. And, if necessary, general manager Bob Myers said, owner Joe Lacob is willing to cross the tax line for the right deal.
Little things. Little things that potentially become big things.
Myers, when asked if he would have been worried going into the playoffs with a shallow bench, Douglas not contributing and Curry (38 minutes a game) and Andre Iguodala (33 minutes a game) starting at small forward while playing back-up point guard, he said:
“We’re worried all the time. We’re always trying to get better. I’m worried tonight. I’ll be worried tomorrow. That’s what we do. We’re always trying to get better. But specifically to your question about the backup point guard, we did need to address it. We felt like with (Nemanja) Nedovic, (Kent) Bazemore and Douglas, somebody would step into that role and for a variety of reasons, it didn’t happen or hasn’t happened yet. We felt we needed to make a move … ”
The bench has been a problem all season, magnified by the memory of the reserves as a critical part of the success a year ago, and the reality that Douglas and Marreese Speights haven’t come within a hemisphere of replacing Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry. Now comes the chance at a recovery. Crawford and Brooks will join the lineup soon, the Warriors estimate Jermaine O’Neal is two or three weeks away from returning from wrist surgery, and Festus Ezeli, another important 2012-13 reserve now missing, is expected back possibly in February but probably on March.