He ain't Elton Brand, but he's going to have to do.
Ronny Turiaf, the 6-foot-10, 250-pound big man, is officially a Warrior. The Los Angeles Lakers declined to match the four-year, $17 million offer sheet he signed with Golden State last week, letting their seven-day window expire. So Turiaf is bringing his caffeinated act to the electric atmosphere of Oracle Arena.
After star point guard Baron Davis surprisingly opted out, after getting their big-money offers rejected by Brand and Gilbert Arenas, the Warriors' dramatic and hectic offseason is expected to calm down now that Turiaf is a Warrior. So, with the major moves in the rearview mirror — provided the Warriors don't pull off a blockbuster trade between now and November — it's time to look at the big picture.
What does Turiaf's signing mean for the Warriors?
First and foremost, Golden State has someone who can rebound and defend, its biggest need the last few years. Last season, the Warriors were outrebounded by an average of 3.84 boards per game, which ranked 29th in the league. According to 82games.com, a Web site that keeps unusual NBA statistics, the Warriors gave up 36.6 points in the paint per game, which ranked 27th.
In his 21 starts last season, Turiaf averaged 10.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.9 blocks in 28.3 minutes. And those numbers don't reveal his intangibles: man-to-man defense, a big body willing to clash inside, experience in a winning organization. The Warriors' brass think he'll be an offensive producer, too.
"My game is going to be the same," said Turiaf, Gonzaga's fourth all-time leading scorer. "I'm still working on my conditioning. That's a point of emphasis for me. What I bring to the table is a guy who plays for his teammates. A guy who blocks shots, rebounds, scores in the post — if asked to do so — and knocks down jump shots — if I'm asked to do that."
His signing also means the Warriors still can play their uptempo, high-scoring style. Chris Mullin, the Warriors' executive vice president of basketball operations, said the real benefit from signing Turiaf is that they addressed their inside needs without compromising their running game.
He isn't exactly a gazelle in the open court, but his motor is seemingly endless and his energy is contagious enough to fuel the Warriors' tempo.
"We don't want to get big and slow down," Mullin said. "Turiaf can run with us. He can rebound and block shots, but he can run, too. We don't want to slow down. We probably want to play faster."
Turiaf's signing also means that the Warriors are down to the morsels of the salary cap space they enjoyed following Davis' departure. Between Turiaf and swingman Corey Maggette, whom the Warriors signed away from the Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State has spent about $13 million on next season.
The Warriors have more than $4 million left before reaching the salary cap, which they could use to address their point guard need. Starting the offseason under the cap means they aren't allowed any exceptions. They can only re-sign their own free agents once the cap space is gone.
With that said, Mullin confessed to being content with his depth at this point. His frontline packs depth and versatility, led by Turiaf, Andris Biedrins, veteran forward Al Harrington, second-year big man Brandan Wright and rookie forward Anthony Randolph. Maggette, swingman Stephen Jackson, guard Marco Belinelli, and possibly guard Kelenna Azubuike (if they decide to match the offer he received from the Los Angeles Clippers), give the Warriors plenty of perimeter weapons. They are one or two players away from being done with retooling the roster.
"Last year, we ran out of gas," Mullin said. "A lot of guys logging minutes — not only logging minutes, but the way we play. You can't play that style and log big minutes the whole year. To keep that pace, you need depth. We've adjusted in some of those areas, and we'll continue looking."
Contact Marcus Thompson II at firstname.lastname@example.org.