The status of Carl Landry and Jarret Jack has drawn a lot of attention this off season for the Golden State Warriors. Amidst all the discussion of re-signing them or replacing their productivity, one question hasn't been asked enough; "What do the Warriors need from their position to contend for a title?" This fanpost is an attempt to answer that question for the backup PG position.
Jarret Jack was a godsend for the Warriors in the 2012-2013 season. His calming influence on the younger players and ability to score and give Stephen Curry rest were key contributors to the teams run into the Western Conference semi finals. For near MLE money, Jack brought stability to the second unit and gave coach Jackson a formidable 'small ball' unit to take advantage of other team's weaknesses. Looking at some of the stats kindly provided by Evanz in this article, we can see that the Warriors were as good if not better with Jack on the court - a rare thing for a backup PG. Add to that his positive locker room presence as evidenced by his votes received in the best teammate voting and it seems a no-brainer to spend a reasonable amount to bring him back, right? Jarret Jack isn't the answer (but another player is) and here are the reasons why.
There are 4 key factors and I list them in order of importance: 1) on court performance, 2) financial implications, 3) long term benefit, and 4) team chemistry. The blend of these factors should determine almost any personnel decisions. I think most of these are self explanatory with the possible exception of #3. I define 'long term benefit' as how the player fits into the team's long term plan. Are they a rental like Landry and Jack were last year, or are they a cornerstone piece that the team plans to have around for 3+ years like Curry or Lee when he was signed.
When I look at Jack he rates really well in areas 1 and 4, but not good in 2 and 3. Maybe he will give the Warriors a discount and mitigate area 2, in which case the team should probably sign him. My feeling is that he is going to demand $7.5m a year for 3 years as a minimum. This is too much for the Warriors to pay. Many of you have suggested that there is no better option, but that is where I disagree.
Livingston rates very high in all 4 areas. 1) Last year the Cavs were better with him on the court than off the court. Yes, that is right... when Livingston subbed in for Kyrie Irving the Cavs PPP went up and PPP against went down. He has been an adequate defender his entire career, and is a pass first PG who handles the ball really well. At 6'7" he is able to guard the other teams SG to allow him to play with Curry when needed. 2) Livingston is a steal making around $1m a year. Does 3yrs/$6m sound better than 3yrs/$22.5 to anyone else? This gives the Warriors added flexibility both this year to replace Landry and into 2014. 3) Livingston is still young and will turn 28 this year, but old enough to be comfortable with the NBA game and able to be a calming influence on his younger teammates. His character and toughness fits in with the team and is similar to Jack. 4) Chemistry is never something you can predict, but I would imagine that his pass first style of game and work ethic will fit very will with the team. Getting your best shooters better shots should make the team better, and an excellent wing defender fits a need we still have.
So while I love Jack and he was great for us last year, Shaun Livingston is the answer to the question Warriors fans should be asking.