By Garrett Wilson
Sep 25, 2005, 21:28
As the start of the NBA season draws nigh, so does a deadline for a major decision by the Golden State Warriors front office. Mike Dunleavy Jr. is entering the final season of his rookie contract, and Chris Mullin and company must decide whether to extend that contract now, or roll the dice this off-season and let him become a restricted free agent. What the Warriors do with Dunleavy could well determine the path of the franchise for years to come.
Don’t misunderstand me; Mike Dunleavy is not a franchise player. At best, Dunleavy is the third best player on his own team. He has never seemed to live up to the high expectations that made him the #3 pick in the 2002 draft. From time to time, he has provided glimpses of the offensive tools that many Warrior faithful dreamed he would develop, but he simply has not been able to produce on a consistent basis. But when Baron Davis arrived on the scene in Golden State last season, things seemed to start to click for Mike D. He only averaged one more point per game after the Davis trade, but his overall play was far more reliable and efficient. Dunleavy’s field goal percentage before Davis was 43.5%, but was 48.1% when Davis joined the team. Even more glaring was Dunleavy’s three point shooting touch improved drastically, going from a mediocre 35.6% to an incredible 43.6% (which would have been good for 4th in the league had he shot at that clip the whole season). Dunleavy also cut his turnovers from 1.86 per game to 1.29 per game.
So the question is: how much stock should the Warriors put into Dunleavy’s late-season improvement? If Dunleavy’s improvement continues this coming season, Mike stands to make millions more than he could by signing an extension today. Perhaps that is why Chris Mullin is currently negotiating with Dunleavy’s agent. If an agreement for an extension is reached in the next few weeks, the contract value would most likely be (in my independent estimation) for five years and anywhere between $35 million and $45 million. If Mullin waits until after the season and Dunleavy picks up where he left off last year, $45 million might go from the top-end of the spectrum to the bottom. The more money that Dunleavy gets, the less money Chris Mullin will have to spend on roster upgrades over the next several years.
Regardless of the finances of the new contract, just giving an extension to Dunleavy will mean major and immediate changes to the Warriors roster. Locking up Mike D immediately makes Mickael Pietrus expendable. While Pietrus is a useful back-up, he has loads of trade value due to his potential and small contract. Golden State might be able to hold onto him for a year, but the closer Pietrus gets to the end of his rookie contract (which expires after the 2006-2007 season), the more his trade value drops.
The changes won’t end there either; an extension will put added pressure on Chris Mullin to trade the albatross contracts of either Derek Fisher or Adonal Foyle (or even both). Owner Chris Cohan might be more willing to pay the luxury tax now that the Warriors seem to have a good shot at the play-offs, but he is still going to want Mullin to trim the fat wherever possible.
Dunleavy’s contract might also cause Chris Mullin to explore (or perhaps continue to explore) trading Troy Murphy. An extension for Dunleavy would insure that at least one defensive liability will be logging heavy minutes for Golden State for the next few seasons. There might not be room for two, which means big Troy might be shown the door in favor of a power forward with a bit more, well, power.
The Warriors do have other options though. They could trade Dunleavy during the season to fill whatever needs they feel they have, but that carries the risk of altering the chemistry of a potentially successful team. Or the Warriors could go into the next off-season and let the market set Dunleavy’s price, while the Warriors have the right to match whatever offer Dunleavy gets. That could be even more risky though as some team could overpay Dunleavy and the Warriors would get nothing in return. Or the Warriors could orchestrate a sign-and-trade of Dunleavy, but by then, his trade value will not be as high as it is right now. In any case, the Warriors would likely then replace Dunleavy with the athletic but raw Mickael Pietrus. Pietrus is a superior defender, but does not have the same all-around offensive ability of Dunleavy.
So what are the Warriors going to do? Well, this is just a hunch, but all signs seem to point to Mike Dunleavy starting the season with a shiny new contract. Chris Mullin has invested too much time and too much of his own reputation in trying to develop Dunleavy, and he is not likely to throw that all away by letting Dunleavy get traded or hit the free agent market next summer. Mullin is also not likely to pass up a chance to re-sign his teacher’s pet at a bargain price.
So get comfortable Warriors fans, because it looks Mike Dunleavy is here to stay.
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namjagerungbengi wrote:Hope he gets a 5 year 20-25 mil extension. Anything higher than that would be ridiculous.
He is getting payed 5.5 million this year and I dont think he has done anything to deserve a raise.
Mullin please dont sign another bad contract, we had out fill with fisher and foyle.