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Evaluating the Golden State Warriors’ Signing of Marreese Speights

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | The Golden State Warriors roster transformation continued on Monday, July 8, as the team has reached an agreement on a three-year deal with free agent forward-center Marreese Speights, according to Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports. He will officially sign with the team when the moratorium ends on July 10.

After opting out of the final year of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Speights joined the free agent market as one of the better versatile big men available. Given how he has performed throughout his five-year career, he is a player that fills a need and can provide good frontcourt minutes.

While the team is still a move or two away from a complete roster, the Warriors will be acquiring a player who will play a vital role on the team during the 2013-14 season and beyond.

Takes Carl Landry's spot but plays like David Lee

With Landry now a member of the Sacramento Kings, Speights essentially takes his place and fills the void left behind. While Draymond Green sometimes played as a stretch power forward during his rookie season, the Warriors needed a big body. By acquiring a player that can play both the power forward and center positions, they have a versatile veteran with experience, especially since Festus Ezeli will likely missing a portion of next season due to offseason surgery.

Despite playing the same position and role as Landry, Speights is essentially a duplicate of Lee. As a mid-range player who spends most of his time outside of the key on offense, he should fit in well with the team's pick-and-roll offense. After setting up screens for ball handlers atop the key, he can then get open and make the easy jumper time and time again.

While the Warriors will miss a clear post presence like Landry coming off the bench, Speights' inside game deficiencies will be covered by the team's guards and wing players. Whether they're established ball handlers who can slash through opposing defenses like Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala or they're developing attackers to the rim like Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes, the Warriors can afford to have power forwards like Speights and Lee do most of their damage from outside the key.

One area where he can definitely help the Warriors is with his rebounding, particularly on the offensive end. He only averages 4.4 rebounds a game in his career due to a lack of minutes, yet he averages 1.6 offensive rebounds a game. As an efficient scorer and productive rebounder, Speights should handle his role nicely.

How will the Warriors acquire Speights?

Speights will be coming to the Warriors, that is a given. However, how he gets here is still up in the air. Since there are still a couple days before trades and signings officially transpire, he could join the team through a number of ways. The Warriors could sign him outright with part or all of the mid-level exception or he could be part of a sign-and-trade deal with the Cavaliers.

The Warriors are already quite familiar with the pros and cons of these decisions, as witnessed with the outright signing of Iguodala becoming a sign-and-trade deal involving the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz. If the Warriors can work out a sign-and-trade with the Cavaliers, who have already agreed to a four-year, $25 million deal with former Warriors guard Jarrett Jack, this swap could benefit both teams and save the Warriors' mid-level exception.

Retaining the entire mid-level exception could help the Warriors acquire one more solid veteran, likely a much-needed point guard or center, for the bench.

The risks of a three-year contract

One negative aspect about this signing is the length of the contract. While Speights may pan out as a bargain pickup who fits in wonderfully with the rest of the Warriors' roster and playing style, three years for a bench player might not work in the team's favor, especially if he struggles to perform at the same level of play demonstrated with the Philadelphia 76ers, Memphis Grizzlies and Cleveland Cavaliers.

Since he opted out of his final year of his current contract, which would have paid him $4.5 million next season, the Warriors will likely be paying Speights a similar amount per season for his services. Likely earning anywhere from $11-14 million over his three-year deal, it would have been a safer route if the team worked out a shorter contract similar to the deal offered to Landry last offseason. The last thing the Warriors want is to get caught in a poor contract decision like years past, stymieing the team's upward trend for success.

Austin Chang is a San Francisco Bay Area-based sports writer covering the Golden State Warriors for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. He is the Associate Editor of Sports Out West and an intern for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. Follow this contributor on Twitter @_austinchang.

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