Step one in the renovation of the Warriors is complete: Corey Maggette has signed.
The 6-foot-6, 225-pound swingman, the Los Angeles Clippers leading scorer a season ago, put his signature on a five-year, $50 million contract Thursday, just two days after he agreed to the Warriors' offer.
The signing, expected to be just the first of many transactions by Golden State this offseason, brings the Baron Davis era of Warriors basketball — which was highlighted by a captivating style of play and an historic playoff upset — to an abrupt end.
Perhaps the franchise's history will come to view today as the first day in year 1 A.D. — After Davis.
"It's one of those things when you'll have to look back years from now to really see how much he did for this franchise," Warriors executive vice president of basketball operations Chris Mullin said of his former point guard in a phone interview Thursday. "Nobody has more respect for Baron than I do on and off the court. He always performed at a high level "... Baron is a unique talent and a unique person. I don't think there are many like him. But it's time to move forward. We've got to figure out how to replace what he brought."
In addition to locking up Maggette, which happened a day after NBA teams were first allowed to sign free agents, the Warriors received a signed offer sheet from Los Angeles Lakers power forward Ronny Turiaf. Since Turiaf is a restricted free agent, the Lakers have seven days to match the offer, per collective bargaining agreement rules. If they haven't matched by next Thursday, Turiaf becomes a Warrior, reportedly for four years and $17 million.
Maggette and Turiaf certainly weren't the first options for the Warriors' makeover — which suddenly became necessary when Davis surprised the Warriors by opting out of the final year of his contract on June 30, forgoing $17.8 million in favor of a five-year, $65 million deal from the Clippers.
The Warriors went after their former point guard, Washington Wizards All-Star Gilbert Arenas, and tried to steal All-Star power forward Elton Brand away from the Clippers (which the Philadelphia 76ers were successful at). After being rebuffed by both, the Warriors turned to Maggette, hoping he will bring the scoring punch they desperately will miss with the loss of Davis.
"I've always had a great deal of respect for his game," said Mullin, who tried to trade for Maggette previously, according to a source close to Maggette. "For us to get a 20-point scorer "... a solid and consistent free throw shooter, someone who gets to the line a lot — it's going to open up things even more for us. We had primarily become a perimeter shooting team. That's another part of the game we lacked."
Mullin said the Warriors are hardly done renovating. They are looking for a point guard and still have holes on the frontline.
The ideal field general, Mullin said, would be someone who could also play and defend shooting guards. Expected to take over the starting point-guard duties, Monta Ellis figures to again log plenty minutes. The Warriors want a point guard who can share the backcourt with Ellis, allowing Ellis to play some shooting guard as he did alongside Davis.
As for the inside needs, the Warriors figure Turiaf fills many of them. The Lakers are expected to decline their chance to match the Warriors' offer and keep Turiaf, who could cost them $34 million over seven years because of luxury tax penalties.
"We like his tenacity, his energy, his defense, his rebounding," Mullin said of Turiaf. "A part of his game that's underrated is his passing ability. He's better on offense than most people think."
Don't expect the renovation to take awhile, either.
Mullin said he doesn't expect to be a player on the free agent market in the future — namely the offseason of 2010, which is shaping up to be loaded with difference-makers and franchise players.
Mullin said the commitments he's making now — especially to Ellis and center Andris Biedrins, who are expected to sign lucrative long-term deals this summer — take the Warriors out of the running for signing any of the big-name free agents coming up the next two offseasons.
The new era — Warriors basketball A.D. — starts now.
Contact Marcus Thompson II at firstname.lastname@example.org.