Center will be restricted free agent unless Warriors re-sign him by Oct. 31
By Geoff Lepper
10/04/2007 03:01:38 AM PDT
LAIE, Hawaii -- Warriors executive vice president Chris Mullin has been hoarding his team's pennies over the past year.
This month, Andris Biedrins is expected to smash that piggy bank open.
In a league littered with overpaid big men -- with one of the most egregious examples being former Warriors center Erick Dampier -- Golden State got a true bargain last season in Biedrins. The only Warrior to play in all 82 games, Biedrins averaged 9.5 points and 9.3 rebounds in 29.0 minutes per contest. He had the league's best field-goal percentage for much of the season before finishing third at .599.
For all that, he earned $1.99 million, or only slightly more than one-fifth what Dampier pulled down while averaging 7.1 points and 7.4 rebounds last season for the Dallas Mavericks, who gave Dampier a seven-year, $73 million contract as part of a sign-and-trade deal with Golden State in 2004.
Unless the Warriors want to risk watching Biedrins leave town via restricted free agency, they have until Oct. 31 to lock him up with a lucrative extension.
"Obviously, we want to get him signed now so he doesn't have to worry about that, so he can play with a clear mind," Warriors forward Al Harrington said. "I just can't see an organization ever getting rid of a guy like that. I'll keep my fingers crossed that it gets done, because we've got to have him."
Bill Duffy, Biedrins' agent, and Mullin are slated to begin talks next week. Neither side expects the negotiations
to be that contentious; the Warriors clearly want to keep Biedrins, and Biedrins is equally enamored with the team that drafted him 11th overall in 2004.
Of course, few people expected Mickael Pietrus' negotiations to go down to the last possible day, either.
The Warriors can offer Biedrins a maximum of five years on a contract extension, which would go into effect beginning with the 2008-09 season. Given that even middling centers such as the Los Angeles Clippers' Chris Kaman are making eight figures, you can reasonably assume that Duffy will be asking significantly in excess of that amount, at least as a starting point.
"We'll see how it goes," Biedrins said of the talks. "I didn't really think about, 'I need that contract.' I just go with everything and hope for the best."
Having that carefree stance is easier when you put up numbers like Biedrins did last season. And at 21, buoyed by an impressive performance at the European championships in his debut for the Latvian national team, Biedrins foresees even more success.
Although the Latvians were sent home during pool play, Biedrins said he developed more range to his offensive game, including isolation plays on the perimeter, something previously unheard of in his repertoire.
"I think I still will make progress," Biedrins said. "I was working hard this summer, back home, and I'm looking forward to getting even better and better. I'm looking forward to this being my best season in the NBA."
That kind of work ethic may be why his teammates -- many of whom have been squeezed recently as part of the new austerity program implemented by Mullin and team president Robert Rowell -- don't begrudge Biedrins his payday.
"To have someone that's 21 years old, with a bright future ahead, it's very important to reward him for what's to come in the future," point guard Baron Davis said. "He's going to be a force to be reckoned with. He deserves everything he's going to get, and everyone on this team is happy for him."
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