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Santa Cruz Weekly Write-Up: Sea Dubs Make Roster Moves Before All-Star Break
By Kevin Danna
Santa Cruz Warriors broadcaster Kevin Danna provides an update on what's going on with the Sea Dubs.
1. How's the team doing?
Santa Cruz was able to stem the tide a tad this week but still heads into the All-Star break losers of eight of their last 11. Following a tough 105-99 loss to the Texas Legends Friday night, Santa Cruz rebounded with a thrilling 131-127 overtime win over the South Bay Lakers Sunday night, but head into the break on a sour note, losing 120-113 to the Georges Niang-led Salt Lake City Stars Tuesday night in Utah. As such, the Sea Dubs are 19-18 heading into the break and are a game and a half out of the last playoff spot in the Western Conference with 13 games remaining; still plenty of time.
The big news around the Sea Dubs this week has to do with roster shuffling. A couple of second-year Sea Dubs have been shipped out of town with Alex Hamilton being dealt to the Windy City Bulls and James Southerland getting sent to South Bay. In the Hamilton deal, Santa Cruz got the returning rights to 2016 Golden State Summer Leaguer Thomas Walkup and former Atlanta Hawk Lamar Patterson along with Erie’s 2018 first-round pick that was held by Reno (it was a three-team trade, and Santa Cruz also gave up a 2018 third-round pick to Windy City). In the Southerland deal (a move that also sent Santa Cruz’s Scott Wood returning rights to the Lakers), Santa Cruz got South Bay’s 2018 first-round pick.
At least one reason why the moves were made, one can surmise, is that Portland Trail Blazers two-way wing C.J. Wilcox is ready to play, and he did indeed make his Sea Dubs debut Tuesday night (more on that later). Walkup and Patterson are currently overseas in Germany and Italy, respectively, so they don’t figure to be a part of the 2017-18 team plans, but are certainly nice assets to have.
Completely talking out of turn here, but this might not be the last of the roster moves. Now I haven’t spoken to GM Kent Lacob or assistant GM Ryan Atkinson about the reasoning behind the trades, but Santa Cruz does have roster openings as a result of the trades, so space is freed up for Santa Cruz to either bring in an overseas guy it holds the rights to or claim someone from the player pool. Santa Cruz currently has seven guys on G League contracts, and you can have 10 plus the two two-way guys and any assignees and flex two-ways (guys on two-way contracts from other NBA teams).
In either case, best of luck to Alex in Windy City and James in South Bay. Both were great locker room guys and key contributors. Alex has a real chance to make significant money playing professionally, and I imagine we will see him with some squad at Summer League in Las Vegas. James brings tough jump shooting and rebounding anywhere he goes. Hats off to both of them.
2. How are the guys on the Golden State roster doing?
The big news last weekend was that Patrick McCaw was assigned to Santa Cruz for weekend games against Texas and South Bay. He did not disappoint, scoring 22 points and securing 8 rebounds in the Texas game on 9-of-19 shooting and 2-of-5 from beyond the arc. He only scored six points on 2-of-11 shooting in the South Bay game, but Quinn Cook and Terrence Jones were on such a roll (more on that later) that the Sea Dubs didn't need McCaw to drop 30 on Sunday night. He was also on a bit of a minutes restriction, eventually seeing just 25 minutes of court time as opposed to the nearly 33 he got on Friday.
Slowly but surely, Chris Boucher is starting to get a bigger workload. He had generally been held to around 15 minutes for his first handful of games, but saw the floor for 17:19 against Texas, 19:44 against South Bay and 24:26 against Salt Lake City. Boucher had one of his best offensive games of the season Tuesday night, hitting a couple of 3-pointers en route to a season-high-tying 12 points. He’s just 23 percent on a small sample size from downtown (6-of-26), but was 2-of-5 Tuesday night and never wavers in his confidence in that shot. He doesn’t hesitate to let ‘em rip from distance and has a pretty quick release. He shot 34 percent from 3-point territory during his Oregon career, so expect that 23 percent to continue to tick north as the season goes along. He’s still blocking shots with reckless abandon, amassing four in just 17 minutes against Texas. He also had nine rebounds in that game, showing you how active he is around the defensive basket.
Damian Jones has found himself in foul trouble each of the last two games, fouling out late against South Bay and picking up his fifth foul early in the third quarter against Salt Lake City, which limited his ability to do a whole lot Tuesday night. He did have one of his better games of the season on Sunday, going 7-of-7 for 16 points to go along with 10 rebounds for his ninth double-double of the season against South Bay. He struggled against Texas, scoring just five points, but did collect six blocks, mainly getting those swats out of help-side positions.
Quinn Cook turned in a monster performance Sunday, going for 41 points and scoring seven of the team’s 11 points in overtime to help lift Santa Cruz to a much-needed win over the Lakers. Unfortunately for the Sea Dubs’ sake, Cook missed the Salt Lake City game due to personal reasons. Santa Cruz is now 2-8 with Cook not in the lineup.
3. Who else has been impressing lately?
Terrence Jones continues to remind everybody why he played five years in the NBA and will be back in the Association at some point in the future. In his last three games, the former Rocket/Pelican/Buck is averaging 27 points, 10 rebounds and 6.3 assists, just missing out on a triple-double on Sunday with 31 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists in the OT triumph over Lake Show Lite. Simply put, there is not a guy on a G League contract who can stop Terrence from getting to the spots he wants to on the floor. He’s too strong, he’s too big and he’s too skilled. After Sunday’s win, Quinn Cook called Terrence the best player in the G League, and it’s hard to argue with that (though maybe Brandon Jennings, who just linked up with the Wisconsin Herd and famously once dropped 55 on Golden State when he was with Milwaukee, would like to have a say about that).
With Cook out last night, Damion Lee moved into a starting role and flourished as expected, scoring 24 points on 8-of-14 from the field and 3-of-5 from downtown. Lee is a legit NBA prospect who will likely get a serious look in training camp from some team next fall.
C.J. Wilcox made his Santa Cruz debut Tuesday and showed that he still has that patented sweet stroke from bonus distance, hitting 2-of-3 from beyond the arc on his way to 10 points in 15 minutes (he also hit another triple, but Aaron Miles had called timeout just prior to him getting into his move). Wilcox had been shelved since October, when he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery. I don’t know how long the Sea Dubs will have Wilcox – he’s a Trail Blazer, remember, so he’s here to work the rust off – but his perimeter shooting will be a boon as long as they have his services.
4. What's next?
Time for the All-Star break, y’all. And it’s a nice long one as well – Santa Cruz doesn’t play again until Feb. 25 at South Bay. The Sea Dubs could use the break – it’s been a tough go of it lately. Hopefully the guys will get a chance to hit the reset button and charge up for one final push to the postseason.
While the Sea Dubs will be on a break as a team, Terrence Jones will get a chance to represent the Stars and Stripes suiting up for NBA G League USA at the G League International Challenge against Team Mexico on Sunday as part of the NBA All-Star Weekend festivities. He also has a chance to represent Team USA for the next round of FIBA Americas World Cup Qualifiers, which just so happen to be taking place Feb. 23 and 26 at Kaiser Permanente Arena in Santa Cruz for games against Cuba (Feb. 23) and Puerto Rico (Feb. 26).
Best of luck to T-Jones and Team USA!