Thursday , Jul , 22 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Has Mullin made the Warriors better?

By Warren Blatt, Sports Network NBA Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – Golden State executive vice president
of basketball operations Chris Mullin has been busy this offseason. He has
made significant moves and decisions that will have a huge effect on the
future of the Warriors’ franchise.

Mullin has signed free agent guard Derek Fisher, re-signed center Adonal Foyle
to a lucrative contract, traded point guard Nick Van Exel to Portland for Dan
Dickau and Dale Davis, and decided to let center Erick Dampier, who is an
unrestricted free agent, leave with the possibility of not getting anything
for him. The 30-year-old Dampier averaged 12.3 points and 12 rebounds in 74
games for Golden State this past season.

When Mullin signed Fisher, the Warriors already had Van Exel and Speedy
Claxton in place at the point. Trading Van Exel for Davis, who will serve as a
backup for Foyle and Dickau makes sense from a roster standpoint. However,
Davis, who does only have one year left on his contract, is 35-years-old and
has seen his best playing days pass him by. The fact is that Davis, who
averaged just 4.4 points and 5.2 rebounds in 76 games for Portland in 2003-04,
will most likely have a brief stay with Golden State and should help the
Warriors get some salary cap relief for next season.

Foyle, 29, averaged 3.1 points and 3.8 boards in just 44 contests for Golden
State this past season, while the 29-year-old Fisher played in all 82 regular-
season games for the Los Angeles Lakers and averaged 7.1 points and 2.3
assists.

“Obviously I am very excited to have these two guys (Fisher and Foyle) next to
me, adding them to our roster, adding two players that I feel embody
everything we are going to become,” said Mullin at the press conference where
he announced the signings of Fisher and Foyle. “In Derek I see a guy that
makes shots, makes big shots, plays defense, and wins. I will take that
anyday. With Adonal I think we all know him better from being around, again he
does anything it takes to help the team win. I have told him this myself one
on one, I feel there is improvement to be had with his game. We have talked
about that in detail and how to accomplish that. I spent a lot of time down in
L.A. at the summer league with Mike Montgomery talking about different players
that we felt were the right players to add to our roster. We are both ecstatic
to have Derek Fisher and Adonal Foyle on our roster.”

Originally selected out of Arkansas-Little Rock by the Lakers in the first
round (24th pick overall) of the 1996 NBA Draft, Fisher had spent the first
eight years of his career with the Lakers. He has played in 544 games,
starting 222, and has averaged 7.4 points and three helpers in his eight years
in the league.

Fisher, who has three championship rings on his resume, also adds valuable
playoff experience. He played in 117 postseason contests as a member of the
Lakers. With Van Exel traded to Portland, Fisher will have the opportunity at
being a starter and he will need to raise his game to the next level.

“I am extremely excited about being here,” said Fisher. “Some of you may chose
to question that or not, but I am ecstatic, truly. This is a wonderful
opportunity as a player and as a professional. I am really looking forward to
joining what I feel like is a quality team, a quality organization that is
headed in a direction that I would like to be going in. I have enjoyed a lot
of success on championship teams in the past and this off-season has obviously
brought new direction for a number of former players that I have been with.
After going through the free agent process and really assessing and analyzing
what situation would best fit for me as a player, what city, what
organization, what type of coaches, what type of front office, this was the
right situation for me and that is why I am here. I am looking forward to it a
great deal. I have played eight years in the league, coming up here twice a
year playing against the Warriors and I don’t remember one game being all that
easy. The last four or five years I haven’t had a lot of success, so I am
actually looking forward to being the home team when the Lakers come to town.”

Without Dampier, Foyle, who was selected out of Colgate by Golden State in the
first round (8th pick overall) of the 1997 NBA Draft, will also need to step
his game up. His best season came in 2000-01 when he averaged career-highs in
points (5.9 ppg), rebounds (7.0 rpg) and blocks (2.69 bpg). Foyle has started
141 games during his seven-year career and has averaged just under 19 minutes
per game in 438 career-contests.

“This is an opportunity for me to assume a position that I have been working a
very long time for,” said Foyle. “I know Erick (Dampier) is going to do great
wherever he ends up. I am looking forward to the challenge of playing a lot of
minutes next year.

The Warriors do have some talented players on their roster. Twenty-three-year-
old Jason Richardson had the best season of his three-year career in 2003-04.
The high-flying guard led Golden State in scoring (18.7 ppg) and shot a
career-best 43.8 percent from the field. Forward Mike Dunleavy Jr., 23, netted
11.7 points and grabbed 5.9 boards in his second season in the NBA. Dunleavy,
who was drafted out of Duke in the first round (third overall) of the 2002 NBA
Draft by the Warriors, struggled during his rookie campaign in 2002-03, but
seemed to adjust to the NBA style of play in his sophomore season.

Richardson and Dunleavy are a solid foundation to try and build around, but
can Foyle and Fisher be key figures on a team that wants to compete for a
playoff berth?

Foyle and Fisher both got significant deals that will make them hard to trade
if Mullin becomes unhappy with the makeup of his squad. Davis and Dickau are
not major factors in the big picture, but Foyle and Fisher are. Has Mullin
really made the Warriors a better team? Time will tell.