by Kent Sterling
Reports are popping up everywhere that C.J. Watson has agreed to sign with the Indiana Pacers to enhance their roster as a backup point guard.
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Watson, 29, is one of the very rare characters in the league to literally work his way up from nothing to find prosperity in the NBA. He was not drafted, but found a way into two 10-day contracts with the Golden State Warriors in 2007-2008 and made the most of those opportunities to earn more than $9-million to this point in his career after three seasons with the Warriors, two with the Bulls, and last year with the Brooklyn Nets.
There are eight excellent reasons why the Pacers did the right thing in signing Watson:
- He’s cheap. The deal is reportedly just above the league minimum.
- He knows who he is. At no point during his career has Watson acted like a petulant star in waiting. He’s a backup point guard, and he knows it. Of his 385 games played, only 67 have come as a starter – 25 of those when Bulls star Derrick Rose was injured in 2011-2012.
- Watson contributed more win shares last year than during any other season in his career with 3.8.
- Not only does Watson know who he is, he knows who he will be. There will be no moping about because he wants starter’s minutes in the future.
- Last season was Watson’s first to hit better than 40% of his threes (41.1%).
- Watson’s 2012-2013 campaign was the first in four years where his two-point percentage exceeded his percentage from deep. That’s a positive step as his percentage inside ten feet in the previous year with the Bulls was 39.4% – YIKES!
- Watson is partially responsible for the only defeat in Floyd Mayweather’s career. Watson, according to a police report obtained by TMZ was sleeping with Mayweather’s wife, which prompted the domestic battery that resulted in Mayweather’s conviction and incarceration.
- There are few players in the NBA that are know by there initials. The Pacers are replacing D.J. with C.J. (whose actual initials, C.A., stand for Charles Akeem, but he is a junior, so I assume Charles Junior led to C.J.). The Pacers are due for an initial guy to exceed expectations.
Watson tweeted at 1:06p today, “Keep up with the pace!!!!” followed by several emoticons that I can’t decipher. That might be some kind of code that he’s coming to Indy, or an admonishment to slow drivers.
It seems Watson understands social media, having accumulated 346,137 followers, but he had a huge advantage by playing in three of the top five media markets in America (SF, Chicago, NYC). He also appears to be another focused player who spent four years in college (Tennessee).
The deal won’t become official until July 10th because of a silly rule requiring a ten day moratorium on signings.
In other Pacers news, the team announced this afternoon that Nate McMillan has agreed to become the associate head coach, filling the role of departed assistant Brian Shaw, who left to become the head coach of the Denver Nuggets.
The roster for the Pacers summer league entry was also released this afternoon, and two names were interesting. IU’s Christian Watford will be on the squad as he tries to earn a spot in training camp. Also, former Minnesota Timberwolves first round selection (6th overall) Jonny Flynn will be with the Blue and Gold. Flynn is only 24, and has a lot of basketball ahead of him somewhere.
Here’s a short video clip of Watson talking about his toughest moments in basketball: