The Memphis Grizzlies completed their first season in the Mid-South still needing talent just about everywhere and looked for value when signing restricted free agent point guard Earl Watson to a three-year, $4 million offer sheet.
The Seattle SuperSonics declined to match the offer and the Grizzlies had themselves a solid young backup at the point who was part of the franchise’s first two playoff teams.
In 2004-05, Watson started 14 games, as he did in 2003-04 as well.
In July 2005, Watson left to sign a free-agent deal with the Denver Nuggets.
In three seasons in Memphis, he averaged 6.3 points, 4.1 assists, 2.1 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 20.2 minutes per game, shooting .410/.303/.671.
A starter in three of his four seasons at UCLA, Watson was a second-round pick of the Sonics in the 2001 NBA Draft.
He was with the franchise when it became the Oklahoma City Thunder, but was waived in July 2009 after the club’s first season in its new home. He signed later that month with the Indiana Pacers, spending a season there.
In September 2010, Watson signed with the Utah Jazz. After three seasons, he signed with Portland in July 2013 and ended his 13-year career after being unsigned in the summer of 2014.
He was hired as an assistant coach in July 2015 by the Phoenix Suns and was named interim coach after the firing of Jeff Hornacek on Feb. 1, 2016. Despite Phoenix going 9-24 with Watson at the helm, he was named head coach on April 19, 2016, and signed to a three-year contract.
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