Claxton expects to be ready to play
By Marcus Thompson II
Posted: 07/24/2009 08:01:18 PM PDT
Updated: 07/24/2009 10:07:33 PM PDT
The Warriors might enter training camp with five point guards under contract.
Count 'em: Monta Ellis, who was penciled in as the starter by coach Don Nelson; rookie Stephen Curry, whom Nelson called the best he's seen since Steve Nash; possibly C.J. Watson, the restricted free agent whom management likes for the right price; and Acie Law, the third-year player the Warriors acquired from Atlanta last month.
Who's the fifth, you ask? Speedy Claxton.
"I expect to play this season," Claxton said in a phone interview. "I'm healthy. I'll be there in training camp."
That is if he's still around come training camp. The Warriors acquired Claxton with Law in exchange for guard Jamal Crawford. But Golden State plans to carry just 14 players this season, one shy of the league maximum. It is unreasonable to think more than a third of the roster would be point guards. Even four might be too many.
Warriors general manager Larry Riley said all along that he expects to make another move at some point this offseason, primarily to add beef to the front line. Claxton, who has one year left for $5.2 million, is attractive on the trade market as an expiring contract. Throw in Law — who has one-year left at $2.2 million if the Warriors don't pick up their team option by the start of the season — and the Warriors have nearly $7.5 million in always-valuable future cap space to barter.
Plus, Watson's status also is up in the air. If he signs an offer sheet with another team, the Warriors can match, but that doesn't mean they will, considering they are loaded at point guard.
Claxton, who played for the Warriors from 2003-05, said he realizes he could be traded. But no matter where he lands, he's expecting to suit up.
Claxton, a seven-year veteran, has been limited to two games total over the past two seasons by a series of knee and hamstring injuries, the most serious being to his left knee. ,He said his knee is fine now and that this offseason, he started training on his knee instead of simply rehabbing, which has worked wonders. He said he's even dunking again.
With his eyes set on proving he's not done, Claxton, 31, said he is eager to get back on the court. He said he won't be taking a buyout and doesn't mind "starting over" and competing for minutes.
Riley said he was prepared for the possibility of Claxton's comeback. He said he asked Claxton to finish his offseason workouts in Oakland so the Warriors can help him be ready by the first day of training camp. Claxton said he will come to the Bay Area next month.
Still, it's likely the Warriors wouldn't have minded if Claxton were unable play so insurance could cover 80 percent of his salary.
If he makes it to camp, Claxton would easily be the most experienced of the team's point guards. And, when healthy, he plays into the Warriors up-tempo style.
"A guy like that, with that kind of experience, he may be able to do some things for us," Riley said. "I just don't know what his health is going to be."