Based on some comments I've read during our most recent C.J. Watson updates, Orlando Magic fans are pretty flippin' sick of reading about him. What's the use of writing about the pursuit of an obscure, young point guard which bore no fruit?
Even before Watson's name appeared in Magic trade rumors, we tried to explain that he, with his combination of youth and three-point marksmanship, would make a great backup to Jameer Nelson, despite his low assist totals. And now, Magic GM Otis Smith has commented publicly about his efforts to land Watson from the Golden State Warriors, which held his restricted free-agent rights. From Brian Schmitz and Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:
Smith said that, in the end, negotiations with the Warriors "got personal," although he wouldn't elaborate.
Smith tried to acquire Watson, 25, in an apparently generous sign-and-trade attempt after the Warriors made it clear they would match offers for the restricted free agent. The offer was believed to involve various combinations of a first-round draft pick, cash and a player (believed to be Anthony Johnson).
"You wouldn't believe what we offered them," Smith said. "I think it got personal."
In a vacuum, Golden State's rejection of this lopsided deal makes little sense. Any NBA team that had already a) extended its incumbent point guard for 6 years and $66 million the prior offseason; b) acquired two backup point guards in an offseason trade; and c) spent a lottery pick on a 21-year-old point guard this summer; would like to rid itself of its 5th point guard, for whom there is precious little playing time. And any NBA team that was offered such a rich deal for a player who is, to it, merely a spare part, would accept it in a hearbeat.
But the Warriors aren't like most teams. Based on what I've read over the last year or so, their official GM, Larry Riley, is really just a puppet for head coach Don Nelson. Its owners and decision-makers aren't basketball fans, and are more concerned with turning a profit than with winning. In short, it's kind of a circus out there.
The big takeaway from this bit of news--which is why I'm making it a full-fledged post as opposed to a FanShot--is that Smith himself acknowledged his offer was pretty generous. Of course, it's in his best interest to say he tried his hardest to land a particular player, but all indications are that he's not embellishing anything. Not only would the Magic have to send those assets to Golden State, but they'd also have to sign Watson to a new deal, one which I estimate would pay him at least $3 million annually. For a luxury tax-saddled team in a small market to be willing to make such a deal speaks volumes about how much it thinks Watson could help it, as well as its commitment to winning.
We've yet to see how exactly this story will end. Truthfully, its outcome hinges on Jason Williams' performance in the coming season. The Magic signed the newly un-retired Williams to compete with Johnson for backup duties. Williams is older, a step slower, and not nearly as lethal from long distance as Watson is. If he underwhelms, or if Watson enjoys a breakout year (unlikely, given the Warriors' logjam at the point), we'll look back and curse Golden State's front office for letting personal politics get in the way of making sound business decisions.