Last year, Marreese Speights caught on with the Cavs as a mid-season acquisiton and became a brief fan favorite. Now, after not being expected to return to Cleveland, it appears that the 25-year-old big man has signed with Golden State. ESPN.com’s Marc Stein had the first report. Yahoo! Sports’ Marc Spears later added the deal is for three years.
Speights, the No. 16 pick in the 2008 draft out of Florida, moved over to Cleveland in the salary dump trade with the Memphis Grizzlies in late January. After receiving inconsistent playing time throughout his 4.5 years with Philadelphia and then Memphis, he immediately received regular minutes under head coach Byron Scott.
In his first 20 games with the Cavaliers, he averaged 12.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per game in 21.5 minutes. His mid-range shooting and toughness was a welcome sign for a team whose youth in the frontcourt was showing by the middle of the season. He struggled more down the stretch, receiving just 15.3 minutes in his last 19 games.
Thus, it was unsurprising when Speights opted out of his guaranteed money for the 2013-14 season. He was expected to find his way to some type of payday elsewhere in the NBA. With the Cavs adding Anthony Bennett, spending free agency money on Earl Clark and continuing to court Andrew Bynum, there seemed to be no indications of a possible return.
There are no clear indications yet on how the deal will be structured, as the Warriors just cleared a ton of salary cap space to fit in Andre Iguodala. The only options available at three years appear to be the mid-level exception or a sign-and-trade with Cleveland.
Over in Golden State, Speights will replace the recently departed Carl Landry, who signed with the Sacramento Kings in a similar deal (4 years, $27 million) as the one that Jarrett Jack penned with the Cavs (4 years, $25 million). Landry averaged 10.8 points in 23.2 minutes as the Warriors’ backup scoring forward last season.