Golden State Warriors Get Busy to the Sound of One Hand Clapping

Joel CreagerCorrespondent IJune 25, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 11: Head coach Don Nelson speaks with Jamal Crawford #6 of the Golden State Warriors against the Indiana Pacers during an NBA game on January 11, 2009 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

The Golden State Warriors took the first step in attempting to retool the roster without killing the youth movement by agreeing to a deal in principle that sends volatile scorer Jamal Crawford to the Hawks in return for the expiring contracts of Speedy Claxton and Acie Law.  The story was first reported by Marc Stein of ESPN.

Crawford is expected to take up the $19.5 million, two year option on his contract.  The trade cannot go through until Crawford's opt out clause expires on July 1 or unless he notifies the league earlier. 

Then he will be eligible for the trade.  Given the Hawks' emphasis on isolation offense and their playoff appearance last season the trade should be perceived favorably by Crawford.

The expiring contracts of Speedy Claxton ($5.2 million) and Acie Law ($2.2 million) will free between $1.5-2 million in immediate cap space represented by the difference between their salaries and Crawford's.

However, the contracts cannot be combined in a trade with any other salary for another 60 days, but they can be dealt individually or with the draft pick (before it turns into salary).

Claxton has a history of injuries and up to 80% of his contract is could be paid by insurers.  That makes his contract all the more enticing to teams strapped for cash or looking for expiring contracts. 

Since the Warriors will be over the salary cap the most they can offer any free agent is the mid-level exception.  Considering this restriction on how the acquisition is used it would be best utilized by upgrading the roster through yet another trade. 

If the draft pick is not traded then the June 25 selection will most likely be indicative of what the team's future trade interests will be come late august.

Basically the only way this trade can be parlayed into a player with a productive contract is through another trade.

There is also one other possibility that must be considered.  Immediately after the rumor broke their was much debate over whether or not the contract of Speedy Claxton would be bought out.

If Claxton's contract is bought out then the the $4.2 million is pegged against the salary cap for certain.  Which means that any money garnered from insurance claims wouldn't benefit the cap situation, and most likely wouldn't be allocated for a roster acquisition. 

I doubt the team would do this since Don Nelson isn't known to settle for less in the off season, and Robert Rowell knows the public is just looking for an excuse to roast him. 

Pocketing the money before the start of the season would only tarnish the front office's image even further.  The situation is further complicated by rumors that Claxton could be healthy and ready to go by the start of the season.

That's not the only complicating factor.  Nelson was very high on Acie Law in 2007 draft. If Law is not bought out or traded it will call C.J. Watson's future into question.  This season Watson proved his ability to be a capable backup point guard, but the team has not yet made him an offer.

There are still many questions that need to be answered this offseason before the quality of this trade can be ascertained, but the motivations behind this trade will be apparent depending on how the money is used.

This could be a big step in the right direction or a cash grab veiled in salary restrictions, injuries and insurance claims.  I'm staying hopeful that there is another big trade in the works.  I'm not going to withhold my applause on this trade, but I'm only clapping with one hand... for now.