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Propping Two Depth-Based Acquisitions Out West

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Two Western Conference teams made their rotations one step deeper this past Tuesday.

One needed high-energy reserves however it could obtain them.  The other was looking for help at a particular position and not only got that but a nice project player as well.

The Suns signed Warriors forward Matt Barnes to a one-year deal, and the Warriors in turn sent a conditional future first-round draft pick to the Nets for enigmatic point guard Marcus Williams.

Both teams addressed needs and did so at bearable costs.  We're hopping aboard the respective wagons on these two moves.

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In Phoenix, the goal was to make a somewhat injury-prone rotation deeper, and the Barnes signing achieves this while also adding a player likely to fit well with the Suns.  Barnes played 76 and 73 games in the last two seasons respectively and should be a fairly durable player at the swing spots in the Valley of the Sun.  His modus operandi is making (often awkward-looking) grit and hustle plays and getting up and down the floor.  Barnes thrived at times in the Nellieball system in Golden State, and he'll have no qualms about flying beside Steve Nash on fast breaks, where he will likely help his scoring average simply by filling lanes and finishing lay-ups and dunks. 

Unfortunately, Barnes isn't the type of dynamic three-point shooter that the Suns covet (32.4 percent for his career), but can spot up and hit the open look, and he'll spend most of his time bruising and busting his gut for the time.  He'll be the guy diving on the floor for loose balls, hustling back in to break up opposing breaks and making trailer cuts that end in dunks offensively.  While Barnes isn't a great defender (it doesn't really seem to be a point of emphasis in Oakland), he certainly makes the effort on that side of the floor, and he will help the Suns in the department.

Barnes comes at a bargain price as he makes $1.2 million on the season, but less than $800,000 of that will come out of the Suns' pockets as the Arizona Republic reports that the rest of the salary will come from a fund taken care of by the league.  Barnes rebounds well (8.2 per 36 minutes last season) for a small forward and moves the ball fluidly.  The guy made 41 starts over the last two years for the Warriors, and he can be called on to play bigger minutes in a pinch if needed.  Barnes played very well in his one-year playoff appearance (11.1 points and 5.7 boards to go with 42.2 percent shooting from deep in 2007 wiith the Warriors), and that should help alleviate any issues that he may have been expected to face with pressure come springtime next season.  Having not gotten a lucrative offer for the second summer in a row, Barnes will be in yet another contract year, which is the all more reason to expect him to continue to work his tail off on a night-in, night-out basis for his team.  Nice well-priced pick-up for the Suns.

Over in Golden State, the Warriors are undoubtedly taking a bit of a gamble with Marcus Williams, but it is by no means a terrible one.  With only shooting-combo-guard-to-be-turned-point Monta Ellis and neophyte C.J. Watson as the point guards on the roster, the Warriors needed another floor general, and Williams fits the bill.  Williams will provide a serivceable back-up to Ellis, but it bears remembering that it was this guy's character flag (Warriors front office members are scurrying to buy desk locks for their computers) and his weight that dropped him to 23rd in the 2006 draft. 

Williams is a versatile point guard and was a lottery talent, who can get his points (albeit without much efficiency, but he has averaged 14 points per 36 minutes for his career) and can dish the ball as well.  Playing in the fast-paced Golden State system will force him to stay in shape if he wants to be part of the future there, and it doesn't hurt that Don Nelson has done some of his best work with talented players who were reputed to be a bit off kilter mentally (see: Jackson, Stephen).  There is plenty of ability to work with on Williams' end as far as his court vision and penetration is concerned (though he needs to work on his outside shot and decision-making), and if he buys into Nelson's teaching and puts in some work, he no doubt has the potential to push Ellis back to the two and become a starter down the road.  For now, the Warriors certainly get a serviceable back-up.  

While we're unsure of the details surrounding the conditional pick, it's hard to imagine the Warriors took a major risk there.  They will have Williams under contract at $1.2 million this season with a team option for the following year at just above $2 million.  So a Golden State team that could find itself in a rough patch once more now has a talented young point guard to work with (for all Williams' past transgressions, he is only 22, and I don't recall him being a major problem in his first two seasons in New Jersey, though corrections are welcome if I'm missing someting here), and the Warriors won't have to pay him a ton at least for the formative portion of his tenure in town.  Seems like a fair enough deal.

Phoenix gets another energy guy to run the floor, and this one even plays a bit of D.  The Warriors take a calculated risk and bring in a point guard with a high ceiling who fills a need on the bench no matter how close he comes to reaching that ceiling.  Good work all around by respective executives Steve Kerr and Chris Mullin.

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