SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Golden State Warriors have made another move in hopes of finding a reliable backup to point guard Stephen Curry.
The Warriors acquired Steve Blake from the Los Angeles Lakers for reserve guards Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks on Wednesday night, adding a veteran ball-handler to their beleaguered bench.
Word of the deal started to spread just before the Warriors played in Sacramento and the Lakers hosted Houston, with the players involved saying goodbye to teammates and coaches in their locker rooms. The Warriors went on to beat Sacramento 101-92, while the Rockets routed the Lakers 134-108.
Both teams confirmed the trade before halftime of their games.
“We think this just bolsters the bench and gives us some more options, some more weapons and a player when you give him the ball you know you can trust him,” Warriors general manager Bob Myers said. “We just think it was a chance to improve our roster and that was our justification.”
The trade gives Golden State a savvy veteran off the bench without sacrificing any of its core players or moving into the league’s luxury tax.
The Warriors used a $4 million trade exception they got in a deal with Denver that landed free agent Andre Iguodala last summer. The team is about $400,000 under the luxury tax, Myers said.
The Warriors are hoping Blake will be uniform when they host Houston on Thursday night in Oakland.
“We like our core, and I think our core likes each other. I think it’s a core that can win,” Myers said. “And our bench, for whatever reason, struggled early on. Anything we could do to fortify it, we tried to do without removing what we consider our core.”
Blake, who is making $4 million in the final year of his contract, averaged 9.5 points and 7.6 assists while starting all 27 games he played for the injury-depleted Lakers this season. The Warriors are counting on the 33-year-old veteran to improve a bench that has been searching for a solid ball-handler since Jarrett Jack left for Cleveland in free agency last summer.
The Warriors acquired Jordan Crawford and Brooks from Boston in a three-team trade on Jan. 15. Golden State sent struggling backup Toney Douglas to Miami in that deal.
Crawford has been, at times, a prolific scorer but is still learning how to be a better distributor and playmaker on a Warriors team that has plenty of shooters. He entered Wednesday averaging 6.3 points and 2.2 assists in his first 13 games with the Warriors after starting for the Celtics while Rajon Rondo was injured.
Warriors coach Mark Jackson said the competition for playing time behind Curry “will play itself out.”
“I know both guys,” Jackson said. “And with Steve, I’ve watched him throughout the course of his career, and he’s a guy that’s not afraid of the moment. It gives us great depth and it gives us experience.”
The Lakers received some salary cap relief and a pair of young and unproven players.
Brooks appeared in just seven games with the Warriors and could never crack Jackson’s rotation. Bazemore, a beloved teammate best known by fans for his animated celebration on Golden State’s bench, also struggled in limited action the past two seasons.
Both had split time with the team’s NBA Development League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors, but should get more of an opportunity with the rebuilding Lakers.
Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP