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Nate Robinson's Next Chance To Change Perception Could Come With The Golden State Warriors

In breaking down the Golden State Warriors' rumored signing of guard Nate Robinson, Matt Steinmetz of CSN Bay Area wrote:

...Robinson didn’t fit with a team vying for a championship, but for some reason he’ll be a perfect fit with the Warriors. That’s a tough theory to get behind.

In fairness to the Warriors, there might not be a guard available with any more talent than Robinson. But again, what does that tell you?

Steinmetz goes on to describe what he thinks that tells us about Robinson. But, as he and San Jose Mercury reporter Marcus Thompson II report, it's not exactly hard to see what the Warriors see in this signing: "He will likely challenge Charles Jenkins, Ish Smith and Klay Thompson for backcourt minutes."

Without delving too deeply into Robinson's numbers, what's clear about this signing is that a) he was available and b) the Warriors are not-so-subtly dissatisfied with their backcourt play behind star guards Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis. It's hard to even know what Robinson will offer this team on the court based upon his performance last season with the Boston Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder.

Maybe there's a more practical concern about Curry's ankle becoming a persistent problem here, but Robinson is not Curry and really never has been. This is simply a matter of the Warriors getting terribly inconsistent play from their reserve guards and Robinson being a guy looking to play some ball this year.

Unfortunately, Robinson's 2010-11 performance doesn't exactly inspire much faith in his ability to a consistently focused contributor.

The Boston Celtics traded Robinson to the Thunder after half a season and Paul Pierce's preseason comment that their bench was "too immature and inconsistent" last season could certainly be taken as a not-so-subtle shot at the likes of Robinson (in addition to Shaq, Glen Davis, and possibly Delonte West, all of whom are gone this season). The Oklahoma City Thunder released Robinson in December after he expressed displeasure with their plans to leave him out of the rotation.

So the biggest concern as he eyes a spot on the Warriors is whether he'll be satisfied with whatever minutes he gets behind Curry and Ellis, competing with 3-4 other players for minutes.

Nevertheless, there should never be any doubt that Nate Robinson loves basketball as much as anyone in the league.

Just yesterday, Seattle Times reporter Percy Allen described how Robinson was the last person to play both basketball and football at the University of Washington because, according to basketball coach Lorenzo Romar, he "was so adamant about it. Nate would sneak in here during football season and shoot all the time."

Since entering the NBA, you can find the Seattle native in his hometown at youth summer camps, summer tournaments between local stars, Seattle Storm WNBA playoff games, and reaching out to the up and coming guys. The passion for the game and it's hard to believe it will disappear any time soon if you've ever spent any time near him.

I'm not just trying to give you the cheap "he's good in the community line" as an antidote to all the bad news about him; of all the NBA players that Seattle has produced, Robinson is arguably the one with the biggest and most consistent presence of any current player in his hometown in recent years in ways that demonstrate a genuine love for the game and helping others coming up behind him rather than false charity.

So I'm not going to lie: having had the opportunity to chat with the guy a few times in those different contexts, it's hard not to like him and appreciate who he is beyond the public persona that has become so negative. And while some might see the December story by SI's Sam Amick as mere fluff, it's not entirely difficult for me to believe that Robinson will take advantage of this latest opportunity to help rebuild his reputation.

"One team's trash is another team's treasure," he said. "With whatever team that I land on they know they're going to get everything out of me. I'm going to come to practice early -- first one there, last one to leave. I work hard every day, practice every day and play hard in games whether it's one minute, 10 minutes, 30 minutes or 40 minutes."

No, Robinson is not the final piece of a championship team. No, he was not a positive veteran presence last season. No, he won't singlehandedly turn around a team that has struggled to find any kind of flow offensively. No, I'm not saying his presence in a city without a team says anything about what he'll do on the court for the Warriors at all really.

But the guy wants a chance to play ball and the Warriors roster as it currently stands offers that opportunity. Now it's up to Robinson to take advantage of the opportunity or add to the list of questions about his maturity.