Houston just got much better, adding Artest for relatively nothing. It’s amazing how the good team’s in the West keep adding pieces at Costco prices. The Lakers (Gasol), New Orleans (Posey), Utah (Korver) and now Houston have all improved their team significantly without giving much. San Antonio would have been on this list if the Warriors didn’t throw big money at Maggette.
While the Warriors are re-tooling, the conference elite is getting even better. While the Warriors are developing for the future, many of the teams they are chasing are nabbing proven players to win now.
Which side of the fence would you rather be on? Would you rather swoop up the Ron Artest or Shawn Marion types, playing to win now? Or do you like the build for the future strategy?
Talked to Andris Biedrins – the $63 million man (if he reaches all his incentives) – this morning. He got to town last night. He was on his way to sign that huge new deal of his. I thought I’d share some of our conversation with you. The rest will be in my story in tomorrow’s paper.
Were you worried about how your contract situation would play out?“I was thinking about it a little bit. I was talking to my agent one or two times per week. He was updating me on what’s going on.
“I knew it will take a little time. I was just waiting for my agent to call me and tell me to come to America.”
You going to miss Baron Davis?
“I will miss him. We had a really good chemistry on the court. He was always finding me on the court, getting me the ball. But I think the point guard we have (Marcus Willliams) and Monta will do a good job as well.”
So, you and Monta are the Warriors new one-two punch, huh?
“I’m really glad that Monta signed that deal, too. I’m really glad to play with him. He’s such a great player, talented.”
How does it feel to have all that
money financial security now?
“It still feels weird, even though I have been here four years. But it’s still unbelievable. It’s such a great feeling. It’s just hard to believe.”
How serious were you about going to play overseas?
“I told my agent I wanted to see every option they have. Playing in Europe would have been fine. It’s close to my home. It was nothing too serious, but I wanted to see every option.
“My first option was the Warriors for sure. I said that at the end of last season.”
Lot of changes this offseason. What do you think of the squad now?
“It’s kind of weird. It’s a lot of new players. Half the people are new on our team. We have a lot of young guys. It’s going to be fun. I can’t wait for the first practice.”
Is this team good enough to make the playoffs?
“I think so. I think so for sure.”
Have you talked to any of your teammates this summer? Discuss all the changes?“Nobody. Only to (Zarko) Cabarkapa.”
No need to worry about Andris playing in Russia. The Warriors have locked him up for years to come.
A source close to the fifth-year center confirmed that the Warriors have signed Biedrins to a six-year, $63 million contract, which was first reported by ESPN.com. Not only does Andris get more than $10 million per year (the deal is even across, not front loaded or back loaded), but he gets an early termination option after the fifth season of the deal.
Andris is now the team’s second highest-paid player behind Monta Ellis, who just signed a six-year, $66 million deal. His signing effectively ends the Warriors free agent period, as they are now flirting with the luxury tax. The only roster alterations now
must come via a trade.
At summer league in Las Vegas, I asked Rico Hines, who works with the coaching staff, about Anthony Morrow. You should’ve seen his eyes light up. He went on and on about how money Morrow’s jumper was and about how he was a bonafide player.
The more I watched him, the more I concurred.
There are three things I love about Morrow:
1. He can shoot. Unlike Belinelli, Morrow is a pure shooter. If he’s open, it’s going down. Plus, he takes smart shots. Where Belinelli wows you with off-balance jumpers and pull-ups from deep, Morrow is simple and efficient. He finds his spot, sets his feet and nails it. Regularly. Midrange and long range. You won’t even notice until he hits like five in a row without a sweat. He left GT tied with Travis Best for third-all time in 3s made. He is also third in career 3-point percentage (42.1). Also sets GTs record for best career FT percentage (86.7)
Check out this stat. He made 16 of 19 from 3-point range in six games with the Warriors. Wow.
“I’m a pretty good shooter,” he told me in a phone interview Friday. “It was maybe a little bit of a hot streak, to keep it real.”
2. He can rebound. At 6-foot-5, 210 pounds, he has the size to get in there and rebound. He’s wiry and long and deceptively strong. He’s not Azubuike or Pietrus when it comes to rebounding from the perimeter. But he has the potential to get there.
“I never want to be just a one-dimensional player. I was called that in college but I’ve always been able to rebound my position. That’s something I’ve been trying to do as well as play defense, get my hands on loose balls and things like that.”
3. He is hungry. Undrafted college senior who barely got a sniff thanks to all the underclassmen. You know this dude has something to prove, and he doesn’t mind proving it. He didn’t play in his first two summer league games with the Warriors. But by the time the summer league season ended in Utah, he was a starter who hardly got off the court, as important as Anthony Randolph and DeMarcus Nelson. He finished averaging 18.6 points.
“I’m used to being the underdog,” he said. “I just like competing. My coach at Georgia Tech told me the harder you work, the luckier you get. You can’t go wrong if you play as hard as you can.”
You gotta love the overachieving types, the stories of people who make a name for themselves based on their work ethic and perseverance. The Warriors have a collection of those types: Monta Ellis, Stephen Jackson, Azubuike, Andris Biedrins. Morrow would fit right in.
If you look at the Warriors’ salary situation, it’s easy to see that Andris Biedrins is the one who’s going to get squeezed. Not so fast.
A source close to the Warriors’ fifth-year center said European teams are hot and heavy after Biedrins. The Latvia native is drawing strong interest in a couple Russian clubs, according to the source, who added that teams are willing to sign him for three to five years for what amounts to more than $10 million a year.
This would be the best news for Biedrins’ in months. The only team with salary cap space that was reportedly interested in him, other than the Warriors, was Philadelphia. But the 76ers spent their cap money on Elton Brand. So leverage of a fat offer from overseas is Biedrins’ best hope of getting the money he wants from the Warriors, or anywhere in the NBA.
Biedrins’ camp, which was rumored to have its sight set on the ballpark of Chris Kaman’s contract (five years, $55 million), likely won’t be elated about the offer they’re likely going to get from the Warriors. I would be shocked if it even equaled Corey Maggette’s average of $10 million a year. Just looking at the numbers, I’m thinking six years, $48 million.
With no other teams under the cap and able to offer Biedrins that kind of money, save for a sign and trade, it would seem Biedrins’ options are limited.
The source said Biedrins’ camp and Golden State have yet to formally meet. But Biedrins figures to be next on the list now that the Warriors are out of salary cap space and star guard Monta Ellis is signed.
The Warriors’ signaled their end to shopping for other team’s free agents by locking up their own guy. Monta Ellis inked a six-year deal today worth $66 million according to an NBA insider.
The fourth-year player out of Lanier High in Mississippi is now the highest-paid Warrior and is expected to be the starting point guard.
The Warriors still need a back-up swing man, but it may not be Kelenna Azubuike, as I expected. According to a Warriors source, they are talking to swingman Maurice Evans, who was no longer needed in Orlando once Mickael Pieteus signed with the Magic.
The Riverside Press Enterprise reported he signed for three years, $6.4 million. But he has not signed the deal, the source said. The numbers were settled on before Evans backed out. Why? You’re right. He wants more money.
So, here’s the deal. If Evans wants too much, the Warriors will match Kelenna Azubuike, who plays the same position. If Evans takes the offer, they will sign him and let Azubuike go to the Clippers, who signed him to the offer sheet for three years and just over $9 million. The Warriors aren’t jumping too much higher, if at all. He certainly won’t be getting the deal Azubuike will. Evans turns 30 in November. Azubuike turns 25 in December.
This all has to go down by Friday, the Warriors’ deadline for matching Azubuike.
Which would you want? The veteran with playoff experience who is limited, but you know what he is going to bring? Or the young, sometimes inconsistent player oozing with the potential to be more than a role player?