Warriors general manager Larry Riley has trimmed the fat off his perimeter, and guard Marco Belinelli was excess. Belinelli, a fan favorite at Oracle Arena, was traded to the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday for veteran swingman Devean George, according to multiple team sources. Riley declined to comment when reached by phone Wednesday evening.
Golden State still has Monta Ellis, Stephen Jackson, rookie Stephen Curry, Anthony Morrow and Kelenna Azubuike in the backcourt. And that's not to mention point guards Speedy Claxton and Acie Law, who were acquired from Atlanta in June. And then there's restricted free-agent point guard C.J. Watson.
Belinelli was the Warriors' first-round draft pick in 2007, No. 18 overall. After hardly playing as a rookie, Belinelli got a chance to play last season thanks to the Warriors' many injuries. He averaged 8.9 points in 21 minutes. He shot 39.7 percent from 3-point range, averaged 2.1 assists per game and emerged as perhaps the team's best perimeter defender.
But he played only 42 games (starting 23) thanks to a sprained right ankle he sustained in January. He never seemed to get back to the form that had him in coach Don Nelson's favor. He sat out the final 14 games of the season.
In addition to the sour note on which he ended the season, several other factors made Belinelli expendable. Nelson's deeming Jackson and Ellis the starting backcourt significantly cut into the available minutes.
Also, the drafting of Curry who could get minutes in the backcourt immediately and the continued progress of Morrow pushed Belinelli down the depth chart.
This doesn't appear to be a cost-cutting move, as Belinelli is set to make $1.55 million this season and George is set to make $1.6 million. The Warriors , however, would have had to make a tough decision come the end of this offseason.
The Warriors had until Oct. 31 to pick up their option on Belinelli's fourth season for $2.38 million. They avoided that decision by shipping Belinelli now for George, eliminating a possible distraction during the season (if they decided not to pick up Belinelli's option but kept him around).
The Warriors did pick up a veteran swingman who once was known for being able to defend and stick a 3-pointer. But George who was traded from Dallas to Toronto earlier this month in the Shawn Marion deal hasn't been the same since leaving the Los Angeles Lakers. In three seasons with Dallas, he averaged 4.6 points per game on 38.1 percent shooting. He didn't play in 90 games during that span because of injury or coach's decision.
But, combined with Claxton and Law, he gives the Warriors just shy of $10 million in expiring contracts. That is a significant chunk of currency to spend on the trade market in their search to add a difference-maker.
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