Sunday, July 27, 2008
Updated: July 29, 12:21 AM ET
Sources say Biedrins, Warriors agree to 6-year contract
By Marc Stein
The Golden State Warriors have moved quickly to prevent Latvian center Andris Biedrins from seriously entertaining interest from deep-pocketed teams in Europe by reaching terms on a lucrative new contract with the restricted free agent.
NBA front-office sources told ESPN.com that Biedrins was en route to Oakland on Sunday night after agreeing to a new six-year contract with the Warriors believed to be worth nearly $63 million. The contract, sources said, will likely be signed Monday and include a player option for Biedrins to return to the free-agent market in the summer of 2013 after the fifth season.
Biedrins' agent, Bill Duffy, confirmed the player's verbal agreement with the Warriors on Sunday night, saying: "I am so ecstatic for this young man, who came to a new country as an 18-year-old and has worked diligently to improve his game and assimilate to the NBA. He is committed to the Warriors and will continue to improve and help stabilize this team for the next six years."
Biedrins is among a growing crop of NBA veterans -- not all foreign-born, as evidenced by Josh Childress' decision to leave the Atlanta Hawks for a rich contract with Greek giants Olympiacos -- to attract big-money offers from clubs overseas. Duffy said Biedrins had feelers "from multiple teams that were primarily Russian" and that returning to Eastern Europe was "something that Andris was open to."
The Warriors, though, made it clear from the start of what has been one of the most frenetic offseasons in the club's history that re-signing their young restricted free agents -- Biedrins and guard Monta Ellis -- was management's top priority. Retaining Ellis and Biedrins, sources say, was Golden State's first consideration in every move it has and hasn't made since late June, starting when the Warriors elected not to use a $9.9 million trade exception created by the deal that sent Jason Richardson to the Charlotte Bobcats on draft day in 2007.
Ellis was signed to a six-year deal worth $66 million on Thursday as part of Golden State's flurry of moves since July, when point guard Baron Davis committed to signing with his hometown Los Angeles Clippers.
The Warriors' busy run of transactions also includes signing forward Corey Maggette away from the Clippers on a five-year deal worth $50 million, matching the Clippers' three-year offer sheet worth in excess of $9 million to swingman Kelenna Azubuike, signing restricted free agent Ronny Turiaf away from the Los Angeles Lakers to a four-year deal worth $17 million and acquiring New Jersey Nets point guard Marcus Williams via trade.
Biedrins has made steady progress since the Warriors selected him as a teenager with the 11th overall pick in the 2004 draft. He averaged 10.5 points and 9.8 rebounds last season in just over 27 minutes per game, leading the league in field goal percentage (.626) and improving his biggest weakness -- free-throw shooting -- from 52.1 percent in 2006-07 to 62 percent last season. Biedrins also grabbed an NBA single-game best 26 rebounds in a Jan. 27 victory over the New York Knicks.
Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here. The Associated Press contributed to this report.