Ever since the news came that Azubuike signed an offer sheet with the LA clippers meaning the Warriors have a week to match I've been wondering should they. Either way it's not clear cut because there are so many issues left to juggle.
Belieive it or not but Azubuike is a poster boy for what the D-League can do right. Luckily for him Baron and J-Rich were out injured so it meant he could get some solid minutes showing he had a nice stroke and could fill minutes when the starterse needed a rest. This past year in 81 games he played 21 minutes starting in 17 of them. For a guard we know his ability to score and rebound is whats giviing him the minutes but his Defense aside from when guarding kobe is suspect. Around November after the 0-6 start when the Warriors needed leadership he provided some (although he played 30 minutes).He then fell out of favor with Nellie in December and January, and then in the final 2 months found a permanent spot in the rotation.
A case for matching
:Nelson said he would give Marco more minutes but this is the same guy who said Troy Murphy would be an All Star and Dunleavy would be very good. Marco getting increased minutes doesn't look very good plus seeing Maggette, Jackson and Monta getting an increased workload without Azubuike providing depth would be painful to watch
:Anthony Randolph and his potential is still up in the air. He's no guarantee to pan out and become a decent player. There was a reason he dropped to the Warriors at 14. On the other hand Kelenna is a known quantity. Point being why take a chance on an unknown Lottery pick rather then ignore Azubuike. I'm not saying ignore Randolph completely but Kelenna is a solid role player for 15 minutes a night. And who knows, he just might develop a little himself. Hopefully he works on that poor perimeter defense.
:His Salary demand of 3years / $9 mil is very reasonable, especially if its the typical escalating deal that starts out at around $2.5 mil and peaks at $3.5 mil. He's probably extremely coachable with great work ethic.Also one can never have enough talent on the rost.er no matter how much of an apparent log jam there may be at certain positions. In other words by letting him walk you're taking a chance on Randolph and Bellinelli to pan out. I wouldn't
Why I wouldn't match
:Hard to see where he's going to get minutes especially now that according to Nelson Marco will get a lot more. Assuming Maggette, Monta and Jax play 38 minutes a game
that leaves 30 minutes for the other positions. Nellie has verbally committed to playing Marco more minutes to let him develop. Nellie's committment may be just Nellie talking, but if it's true, Marco gets at least 10 minutes per game. A backup PG is needed so thats 7 minutes. You get the drift.
:Isn't there a D-League guy capable of doing what Kelenna can do. What the Warriors could do is go find a guy who can give them better perimeter defense and sacrifice a little of the scoring and rebounding that Kelenna gives them. Bench guys at the small forward and shooting guard positions seem to be a dime a dozen so I can't imagine that it's too difficult to replace what Kelenna does.
: Is this going to block the development of Anthony Randolph? For year 1 of the contract it won't. But next year and the year after, Kelenna and Randolph are both going to want minutes. Is it worth it to keep Kelenna around for 2 extra years if Randolph is going to take his minutes anyways? Seems like a waste of cap space each year.
In the end I say the Warriors match even though at the moment nothing is clear when you have Chris Mullin as your GM. His productivity combined with his upside means at least there would be no overpaying. Even though I have concerns keeping him on board would stunt the growth of Randolph when you have an injury prone guy like Maggette who's never yet played a full season it would make sense to keep Kelenna on board. Jackson could play SF if he wanted to but then Monta would be a SG and then the PG spot is still open. As I've said before I can't imagine CJ Watson playing as a starter.
He's also mainly healthy and explosive. After a strong start, he injured his knee and had been playing hurt for much of the season with knee tendinitis. This hindered his performance and weighed down his impact. Hopefully Mullin realises pros out-weigh the cons when it comes to matching the Clippers offer sheet. Even though the Swingman position may be stacked it shouldn't stop the Warriors letting a valuable asset go
Kelenna Azubuike 2007-2008 Report Card
2007-2008 Game log
From BBJ Kelenna Azubuike '06-'07 Highlight Reel
Kelenna Azubuike '07-'08 Highlight Reel