From the 7/23 San Jose Merc...
Always good when Chris Mullin makes a point to address all far-flung issues and it’s especially good for me when it doesn’t happen while I’m driving on side streets in the evening and scribbling in the dark.
Mullin popped onto onto the Warriors’ practice court today to talk to a group of reporters after Ronny Turiaf’s introductory news conference and, as Mullin put it, was happy to discuss and back-track through the multitude of events that have taken place to shake-up his roster and possibly the franchise’s status.
“It’s been busy,” Mullin said. “And I think productive. And feel pretty good about everything.”
I did this in the last post, but I feel I should hit the headlines again:
* Mullin said no final agreement has been reached with free agent Maurice Evans and no decision has been made whether to match Kelenna Azubuike’s three-year, $9.3M offer from the Clippers (deadline is Friday); Mullin agreed that it’s probably an either/or/or situation involving Evans, Azubuike or possibly another wing.
* Mullin made it pretty clear that he’s expecting to sign restricted free agents Monta Ellis (I’d say a five- or six-year deal averaging between $11M and $12M, something like that) and Andris Biedrins (another guess: six years, something like $55M) fairly soon.
Since you can always go above the cap for your own free agents but cannot if you’re trying to sign other teams’ F/As, it behooves the Warriors to wait until the Evans/Azubuike thing is done and see if there’s anybody else they want before officially inking Ellis and Biedrins.
* I’ll get to more stuff, and there’s always more stuff, later in the item. But first, I wanted to highlight a specific point that is not news… but is fascinating to any long-time Warriors/Baron Davis watcher.
When Lowell Cohn asked Mullin why Corey Maggette was worth a long-term deal that might’ve/could’ve gone to Baron Davis, Mullin looked thoughtful and said:
“I think it’s a fair question… I don’t know that the exact deal that happened in LA would’ve satisfied (Davis) here. I’m not saying it wouldn’t have…”
I think he has a good point that hadn’t quite dawned on me until he said it.
First, I doubt the Warriors would’ve ever offered Baron anything close to five years. No chance. Not with that injury history and not the way Baron blew off practices and blew off playing defense last season.
Still, Mullin seems to be saying that he didn’t think Baron would’ve taken 5/65M from the Warriors–or that if Baron had taken it, he would’ve been upset about it very quickly. It’s different when you take the deal as the local hero coming home and trying to fit into a salary structure with or without Elton Brand.
But if you’re the guy who got the GSWs into the playoffs for the first time in 13 years… and you just played 82 games… and you’ve been pining for this deal for years and the Warriors haven’t budged…
This was not going to work out well for the Warriors–they would’ve had to over-pay just to keep BD and even then Mullin would’ve been worrying the whole time that Baron, starting at $11M instead of the $18M he wanted, might soon blow up the team in frustration.
That made the decision to walk away from Baron very easy for Mullin and the Warriors. Very, very easy when you figure that Ellis, Biedrins, Brandan Wright and Anthony Randolph might never fully develop if Baron was around to dominate the ball and the locker room and the sidelines and the team plane and the hotel…
“If he stayed (by not opting out), I think there were some things we needed to accomplish,” Mullin said, describing his mind-set at the June 30 opt-out date. “And if he left, probably more to accomplish, more things had to get done. Those things have somewhat fallen into place.
“That decision (to move on without Davis) probably was going to be made at some point. It got sped up a little bit.
“With our young players, I think a lot of them need room to grow, too. I think, with Baron, and this is not against Baron, he is the type of player and personality that maybe doesn’t afford that ability for young players to blossom.
“Of course, when you lose a player of his talent and stature, it’s hard to replace. But the flip side is that the guys that you believe in that are coming up, they do legitimately need room to do that, referring to Monta, Andris and guys we’ve brought in here. They’re going to need some room to grow and I think with Baron, that probably wouldn’t have happened.”
I see what Mullin is saying. I’ve been writing a lot of that for months and years and I definitely see it now.
* Asked if the Evans/Azubuike move pretty much concludes the Warriors’ major summer activity, Mullin didn’t disagree with the notion. He said C.J. Watson might still be with the team in October, but there have been no final decisions there, either. He said he expected Kosta Perovic to be with the team this season.
If the roster is basically set for next season, Mullin said he’s pleased with the outcome, though nobody knows for sure what will happen when the four or five new rotation players mix in with the holdovers.
“We feel like we needed to address some inside presence, physicality, and then also we feel we’ve got some scorers and with Marcus coming, we feel he’s a guy who by nature gets people involved, sees the floor. we thought that was important to have as well,” Mullin said.
Later, talking about Turiaf, Maggette and possibly Evans adding a large dose of muscle to a previously very skinny team: ”I’m hoping that just adds to something that we didn’t have. I think all those players you mention, they are probably more physical than guys we’ve had. But I do think they can run.
“I don’t think we’re going to jeopardize the ability to run and keep that uptempo game by adding that.
I think Turiaf can run. If he’s not the first ‘big’ up the court, he can trail and he can handle the ball pretty well and do some of the things we want our big guys to do.
“I think obviously Maggette’s obviously athletic enough to run the wings and we really like the fact that he gets to the free-throw line and makes free throws.
“And you need somebody to kind of be the catalyst of all that, be it Monta, Marcus or C.J., to really keep pushing that tempo.”
Could Marcus Williams play significant minutes alongside Ellis in a double-playmaking backcourt?
“I think he has the ability to do that,” Mullin said of Williams. “I think Marcus is a guy that sees the floor, more of a playmaker, creator, kind of a vision guy.
“If we have so many scorers on the floor, at some point you need to have someone that in their mind is thinking pass first. I think he’s shown the ability to do that.
“Obviously I think he needs to get in better shape to play the way we play. I think he will do that. He’s got nice size to be able to play with Monta. I think he’s got a bright future. I’ve always liked him. I think he’s got a good game. I’ve always been impressed with his talent—hopefully we can bring that out of him.”
* Don Nelson has joked that he has tried multiple times to reach Stephen Jackson by phone and hasn’t gotten a return call. I asked Mullin if he has talked to SJax this summer or if he felt he needed to.
“No, I haven’t left any messages,” Mullin said.
Could there be an issue with SJax? ”I don’t think so. I didn’t talk to him last off-season, either.”
* Mullin re-iterated what has been written here and other places: He believes in Al Harrington as a player and wants Harrington to be a key piece of how the Warriors play this season, perhaps used more as a slasher and low-post scorer than just merely a three-point chucker.
Has Harrington asked to be traded? “No. I saw Al recently (in New York),” Mullin said. ”I think he was happy to see me. We had a good meeting.”
What’s Harrington’s role this season?
“I think actually right now, in my mind, he becomes maybe more important than he was last year,” Mullin said. “With his ability to shoot the three, to space the court, I think he’s an important part of our team. My personal opinion is he does have a post game that we could use as well.
“We’ve got those guys running and filling lanes. When you get into the half-court, you do need some space to drive the ball. And that’s a big part of our game, to open the court up as opposed to clogging it up.”
* Mullin pointed to the team’s new depth, at least on paper. I asked if he’d like to see Nelson, who was at most a 7-man rotation guy last season, go to a 9- or even 10-man rotation this season.
“If efficiently it’s working, if you’ve got nine… guys really playing at a high level, contributing, of course,” Mullin said. “That’s tough to do, not only keeping guys somewhat satisfied or getting that production out of them… ideally, yeah.
“I thought last year that’s what we needed. We needed a little more depth. We got a little run down. Ideally, yes, whether that happens or not…”
Has No. 1 pick Anthony Randolph, who just turned 19 and has turned in some impressive summer league performances so far, looking like a player who might have a role as a rookie?
“He’s got incredible gifts, talent,” Mullin said. “To get so excited in july is a little bit premature. But as far as his talent and what he’s shown so far…
“I don’t even know if we got to talk about the draft. I thought the draft went incredibly well. I mean, I don’t even remember talking about the draft. He’s a really talented guy. And the kid Hendrix is playing well. He’s another body-type kind of guy we haven’t had, too.”
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