NBA Roundtable

Earl Watson Joins Indiana

In Free Agency on July 23, 2009 at 6:10 am

I’m catching up on some of the news from the past few days …

Oklahoma City Thunder

Let’s start with the Oklahoma City Thunder side of things:

The Oklahoma City Thunder waived guard Earl Watson it was announced today by Thunder Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti. The 8-year NBA veteran appeared in 68 games (18 starts) with Oklahoma City this past season and averaged 6.6 points, 5.8 assists and 2.7 rebounds in 26.1 minutes per contest.

Good decision by Sam Presti.

Earl Watson was terrible for the Thunder last season. He’s become one of the worst defenders in the league at his position, and offensively he can’t make a jump shot. The combination of the two meant he was regularly making a negative impact on the team, and was helping the Thunder lose games rather than win them.

Oklahoma also has it’s starting point guard tied up in Russell Westbrook, and in Shaun Livingston it appears they have Watson’s successor as the lead backup guard. The Thunder also have two ball-handling wings in James Harden and Kyle Weaver to supply help. Oh, and Chucky Atkins, who for the time being at least is still with the club.

Indiana Pacers

The Indy Star reports

The Indiana Pacers  continue to add pieces as they strive to become a better defensive team.

Point guard Earl Watson has agreed to sign with the Pacers once he clears waivers, a person with knowledge of the situation said Friday night. It’s unknown how much the one-year deal is worth.

Defense

Indiana is going to need some good luck on that score. Earl Watson has declined hugely on the defensive end over the past four seasons since he left Memphis, declining each year resulting in the pitiful displays we’ve seen from him over the past two seasons for the Sonics and Thunder.

I would be extremely surprised if Watson suddenly turned around and started playing good defense again. He’s developed a lot of bad habits, and he’s lost a lot of his quickness.

Earl Watson + Indiana

Earl Watson won’t help the Indiana Pacers. He’s a comparable overall talent to Travis Diener, but I’d play Diener ahead of Watson due to his shooting prowess. Watson is the better floor general and passer, but I prefer Diener’s shooting.

I expect Watson to be the lead backup guard behind TJ Ford next season, and to play somewhere around 20 minutes a night.

Money

I haven’t seen any details on the contract yet. The signing happened very quickly after Earl was waived, so I’d be surprised if it was just a minimum contract.

Conclusions

Good decision by Sam Presti and the Thunder.

Bad decision by Larry Bird and the Pacers.

Update — Watson Given Multi-Year Deal

No word on what deal costs yet, but it exists — link

Update: Mike Wells reports that Earl Watson will be paid $3 million next season. However, there are several other reports saying it will be a multi-year deal.

“I feel he’s the best (free agent point guard) out there,” Pacers president Larry Bird said. “(Allen) Iverson’s out there, but for what we need, he’s the best for us.”

“I’ve always been a fan of Earl’s,” O’Brien said. “I think he is a hard-nosed kid. He defends in a very strong way. He makes good decisions offensively. He is a real good complement to the new guys we’ve brought to the team.”

Meanwhile, Sham Sports has Earl Watson down for $2.8 million on a one year contract. I’ll be using that figure for the time being.

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