Thursday , Apr , 01 , 2010 C.Y. Ellis

Golden State Warriors 2004-05 Season Preview

=== Golden State Warriors 2004-05 Season Preview ===

By Warren Blatt, NBA Editor

2003-04 FINISH: 37-45

OFFSEASON ADDITIONS: Dale Davis (C/F) – Trade with Portland; Derek Fisher (G)
– Free Agent; Luis Flores (G) – Trade with Dallas; Eduardo Najera (G) – Trade
with Dallas; Mladen Sekularac (G) – Trade with Dallas.

OFFSEASON SUBTRACTIONS: J.R. Bremer (G) – Selected by Charlotte in Expansion
Draft; Brian Cardinal (F) – Signed with Memphis; Erick Dampier (C) – Traded to
Dallas; Evan Eschmeyer – Traded to Dallas; Popeye Jones (F) – Waived; Nick Van
Exel – Traded to Portland.

2004 DRAFT PICKS: 1. (11) Andris Biedrins (F, Latvia).

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP: PG Derek Fisher, SG Jason Richardson, SF Mike
Dunleavy, PF Troy Murphy, C Adonal Foyle

COACH: Mike Montgomery

(Sports Network) – Golden State’s executive vice president of basketball
operations Chris Mullin has decided to turn the Warriors upside down during
the offseason. He fired head coach Eric Musselman, who won 38 and 37 games the
last two years, which were Golden State’s most victories since 1993-94 (50),
overpaid to keep a marginal center in Adonal Foyle, and made some trades that
left people around the league scratching their heads.

Mullin lured Stanford’s Mike Montgomery away from his cushy college job to
take over for the departed Musselman. While he has no experience at the NBA
level, Montgomery had been one of the most successful college coaches, as he
guided Stanford to a 30-2 record last season on the way to Pac-10
Coach of the Year honors. Montgomery, who had spent the last 18 years with
the Cardinal, was 393-167 during his tenure with Stanford.

“We’re thrilled to bring a coach the caliber of Mike Montgomery into the
fold,” said Mullin. “He’s had a tremendous amount of success throughout his
career and we think he’ll be a very good fit for our organization.”

Taking a chance on a Montgomery was not the only risk that Mullin decided to
take in the offseason. He re-signed Foyle to a reported five-year deal worth
over $40 million. The 29-year-old Foyle, an eight-year veteran out of Colgate,
played just 44 games last season due to knee problems and averaged 3.1 points
and 3.8 rebounds. He has averaged 4.6 points and 5.2 rebounds in 438 career
games, all with Golden State.

The Warriors did sign veteran point guard Derek Fisher, who was an
unrestricted free agent, to a lucrative, multi-year contract. Fisher had spent
the first eight seasons of his NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers and was
a key contributor to the Lakers squad that won three straight NBA titles
beginning in 1999-2000. The 30-year-old Fisher averaged only 7.1 points and
2.3 assists per game last season while primarily serving as a backup to Gary
Payton.

“We feel very fortunate to add a player and person the caliber of Derek Fisher
to our team,” said Mullin. “The fact that he chose the Warriors over several
other attractive suitors is certainly a good feeling.”

The losses that Golden State has endured could be too great for it to overcome
in the coming season. Mullin dealt point guard Nick Van Exel, who averaged
12.6 points and 5.3 assists for the Warriors in 39 games last season, to the
Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for aging center/forward Dale Davis and
guard Dan Dickau. The Warriors also traded centers Erick Dampier, who was an
unrestricted free agent and is coming off the best season of his eight-year
career with averages of 12.3 points and 12.0 rebounds in 74 games for the
Warriors in 2003-04, and Evan Eschmeyer, Dickau, and the draft rights to Steve
Logan to the Dallas Mavericks for forwards Christian Laettner, who was waived
and then signed with the Miami Heat, and Eduardo Najera, two future first
round picks, the draft rights to guards Luis Flores and Mladen Sekularac along
with cash consideration. Golden State allowed free agent forward Brian
Cardinal to sign a contract with the Memphis Grizzlies.

Golden State still has a young nucleus to build around with shooting guard
Jason Richardson and forwards Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy still in the fold.
With Van Exel gone, Fisher should prove to be a solid signing. However, with
Montgomery as the new general on the bench and with what Mullin received in
return in his two major trades, the signs point to the Warriors as a club that
is trying to prepare for the re-building process.

BACKCOURT

The high-flying Richardson is an exciting, explosive guard and should be
considered the cornerstone for the Golden State franchise. The 23-year-old
Richardson had the best season of his three-year career in 2003-04, as he led
the Warriors in scoring (18.7 ppg) and shot a career-best 43.8 percent.
Richardson will take up the majority of the minutes at shooting guard.

Speedy Claxton and Fisher will battle for time at the point. The 26-year-old
Claxton, who will be entering his fourth season in the league, played 60 games
for the Warriors last season and averaged career-highs in points (10.6 ppg),
rebounds (2.6 rpg), assists (4.5 apg) and steals (1.62 spg). Fisher gives
Golden State valuable leadership and big-game experience. The two lead guards
should be able to hold down the fort at the point.

Mickael Pietrus and Calbert Cheaney, who re-signed with the Warriors in the
offseason, will backup Richardson. The 6-6 Pietrus, who averaged 5.3 points in
53 games during his rookie campaign for the Warriors in 2003-04, is solid
defensively and is still trying to prove that he belongs in the league, while
Cheaney, who will be entering his 12th season in the NBA, can give Montgomery
an offensive spark off the bench.

FRONTCOURT

Golden State hopes that Dunleavy and Murphy can prove that they can be a
formidable forward combination. The 24-year-old Dunleavy, who had a dismal
rookie season in 2002-03, improved in his sophomore year as he averaged 11.7
points and 5.9 boards in 75 contests. Dunleavy, who was selected out of
Duke in the first round (third overall) of the 2002 NBA Draft by Golden
State, has the ability to knockdown a jumper from anywhere on the court and
should continue to improve this season.

The 24-year-old Murphy played just 28 games in 2003-04 because of injuries.
The 6-11 power forward showed in 2002-03 when he averaged a double-double
(11.7 ppg, 10.2 rpg) that he can hold his own in the low post. A healthy
Murphy is a big key if the Warriors want to compete every game.

Veteran Cliff Robinson will be the first reserve off the bench to spell Murphy
or Dunleavy. The 37-year-old Robinson averaged 11.8 points and 3.9 boards in
just under 35 minutes per game for Golden State last season. He started all 82
regular-season contests for the Warriors and will be even more effective in a
backup role. The 6-10 Robinson, who could also see time at center, should
prove to be a good tutor for the younger players on the squad.

Davis and Foyle will patrol the middle for the Warriors. Both players lack any
kind of offensive game, and Montgomery will have to get the most out of the
skills of Davis and Foyle on the defensive end of the court. Robinson will
help add some scoring at center when he fills in for the duo.

Rookie center/forward Andris Biedrins, who was selected 11th overall by Golden
State in the 2004 NBA Draft, is considered a project and will learn about the
NBA game from the bench in his rookie season. His playing time will be
extremely limited, but the Warriors feel it will be well worth the wait for
this talented foreign player.

OUTLOOK

Montgomery should have a rude awakening in his first season as a head coach in
the NBA. Mullin has a lot of work left to do with the roster if the Warriors
hope to become a playoff squad once again. The last time Golden State appeared
in the postseason was in 1993-94, when Mullin was a player on a club that won
50 games and had Chris Webber, Latrell Sprewell and Tim Hardaway on it. At
least there are some pieces in place, as Dunleavy, Murphy and Richardson are
young and talented, and they do give Montgomery some talent to work with.

With so many changes, some of which are very questionable, it looks like
Golden State will be watching the playoffs from the sidelines for an 11th
straight season.

GSW