"I think we're going to need another guy," Mullin said. "Whether he's in the draft, or a guy that hasn't played significantly to this point that we already have, one or two guys are going to have to contribute more than they did last season. Some players are going to have to emerge."
That was practically an engraved invitation for second-year center Patrick O'Bryant -- the ninth overall selection in the 2006 draft -- to step up his game after a rookie season spent primarily in the NBA Development League. But so far in the Vegas Summer League, O'Bryant has yet to RSVP in the affirmative.
With rookie big men Kosta Perovic and Brandan Wright not playing because of buyout issues and an injured hip flexor, respectively, and budding star Andris Biedrins not required to be present, the paint has been wide open for O'Bryant to rule.
Instead, he's scored 12 points in 57 minutes over three games, going 5-for-12 from the floor. And despite grabbing 17 rebounds and blocking six shots, his lack of zest on the floor has led some observers to wonder how effective he'll ever be in the NBA.
"I definitely could do better," O'Bryant said. "I think it's more the mindset than anything. It could be a lack of confidence or something.
Confidence was fleeting for O'Bryant last season, when he was clearly knocked off-stride by his inability to accomplish things to the satisfaction of coach Don Nelson. O'Bryant seemed to regain some equilibrium in his final D-League stint, eventually putting up 10 double-doubles, but it hasn't carried over.
"It's a little hard, because it's a whole different league," O'Bryant said. "It's like playing on the freshman team in high school, then all of a sudden playing on the varsity."
Nelson, the varsity coach in this case, has not been convinced to change his opinion by what he's seen over the past week.
"He's a long way away, from what I can see," Nelson said. "He's still a young player, so you never say never, but I sure don't see he can be a factor next year. He can't even be a factor in this league."
Regardless of how O'Bryant fares in the Warriors' final two summer-league games -- set for 7:30 p.m. today against the Seattle SuperSonics and 7 p.m. Saturday against the New York Knicks -- he'll be back at work next week with Las Vegas-based trainer Joe Abunassar, who has helped O'Bryant put on nearly a dozen pounds of muscle through six-day-a-week workouts since the Warriors' playoff run ended in mid-May.
O'Bryant said he plans on living and training in Vegas for the remainder of the summer in the hopes of dispelling the growing notion that he can't succeed in Nelson's style of play.
"I don't think it's fair people say that, because they're on the outside, looking in. They only see 10 percent of the whole (situation). They're not at practice, they're not seeing what's going on," O'Bryant said. "I know my running's gotten better, even since a month ago. I'm able to take two dribbles after getting the rebound, not feel like I'm going to lose the ball out of bounds off my foot, that kind of thing."
Notes: Unrestricted free-agent forward Matt Barnes was quoted in Thursday's issue of the Sacramento Bee that the expected offers of a full midlevel exception (meaning the salaries would start at $5.356 million this season) have not come across since free agents could start signing contracts on Wednesday because "teams have questioned whether the success I had was because of Nelson's system." That would seem to indicate that the Warriors, who have acknowledged their desire to keep Barnes, could scoop him up as a bit of a bargain, although Mullin wouldn't say if he thought that was the case. "When you get the player that fits your style, the right player at the right price, then it works," Mullin said. "I don't think when it happens is the most important part. A lot of things you'd like to happen sooner." ... The Warriors won the "Best Upset" title at the 15th annual ESPY Awards on Wednesday for their playoff series win over Dallas, with Baron Davis picking up the hardware on behalf of the organization. The broadcast of the ceremony can be seen Sunday evening on ESPN.
Contact Geoff Lepper at email@example.com.