No franchise has thrown money around this offseason like the Warriors. So it was only fitting that they all but ended their involvement in free agency by flinging big bucks.
According to sources close to the fifth-year center, Golden State signed Andris Biedrins to a six-year, $63 million contract on Sunday, belittling any offer he had on the table. It's certainly a big splash to conclude the franchise's involvement in the free agent period, as the Warriors have used just about all of their available salary.
The 6-foot-11, 230-pound post was selected No. 11 overall by the Warriors in the 2004 NBA draft. His averages in points and rebounds increased in each of his first four seasons. Despite losing nearly two minutes per game in playing time, Biedrins posted career highs in scoring (10.5) and rebounding (9.8) last season. He also finished with a league-best 62.6 field goal percentage.
His improvement extended beyond his increased stats. But Biedrins is noticeably better at handling the ball, scoring out of the post-up and dribbling (though last season he didn't seem to have the magical hands he displayed his first three seasons).
The Warriors blew away any known offer for Biedrins. The only team in the league that had the cap space to sign him was Memphis, which has decided not to spend any money this offseason.
The Warriors made Biedrins, 22, the team's second highest-paid player three days after making guard Monta Ellis the highest paid with a six-year, $66 million contract. Like Ellis, Biedrins received an early termination option, which will allow him to walk away from the final year of the contract.
Signing Ellis and Biedrins were top priorities for the Warriors this offseason. Chris Mullin, the team's executive vice president of basketball operations, intimated such when he declared at the end of last season he would match any offer the two restricted free agents received.
Neither signed any offer sheets, even though the Warriors made several moves that ate up salary cap space before signing their two young standouts. Biedrins was getting looks from overseas, according to the source — including from teams in Russia, which is close to his native Latvia. He would have had to pull a $40 million deal in Europe to equal the contract he got from the Warriors.
The Warriors' salary cap figure, according to published reports and information obtained by MediaNews, stands at around $70 million — just shy of the $71.15 million luxury tax threshold the Warriors do not want to cross. They would have to pay a $1 penalty for every dollar they spend over that dreaded line in the sand.
The Warriors now have 15 players under contract, the most they can have when the season begins. Second-year point guard C.J. Watson and rookie shooting guard Anthony Morrow are on league minimum non-guaranteed contracts, which for Watson is $711,517 and for Morrow $442,114. The Warriors could waive either one and save some change or open up a roster spot — say, for instance, if they wanted to sign their lone remaining free agent from last season's roster, forward Austin Croshere.
The Warriors, at any point up until late February, can make trades. But the core is set. After losing point guard Baron Davis, the face of the franchise and best player, the Warriors have re-tooled with a bevy of offseason activity.
They re-signed their own key free agents, Ellis and Biedrins, as expected. They added two outside free agents (veteran swingman Corey Maggette and power forward Ronny Turiaf) and traded for point guard Marcus Williams, all of which figure to be regulars in the rotation. They made room in the rotation for their young proteges — second-year power forward Brandan Wright, third-year swingman Kelenna Azubuike and second-year shooting guard Marco Belinelli — and added a dynamic rookie forward in Anthony Randolph.
At this point, the starting five is expected to be Ellis and Maggette in the backcourt, Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington at small and power forward, and Biedrins at center. Turiaf, Azubuike, Wright and Williams — and maybe Randolph and Belinelli — highlight the bench.
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