Dunleavy signs deal hours ahead of deadline

Updated: October 31, 2005, 9:01 PM ET
Associated Press

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Forward Mike Dunleavy signed a five-year, $44 million contract extension with the Golden State Warriors on Monday, hours before a deadline that would have made him a restricted free agent after the season.

Mike Dunleavy
Dunleavy

Dunleavy, the third overall pick in the 2002 draft, started 79 games for the Warriors last season, averaging a career-best 13.4 points along with 5.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game. He is the sixth member of Golden State's promising young core to sign for at least the next four seasons.

Though he has developed slowly during three losing campaigns in Golden State, the club firmly believes the young forward has better days ahead -- and he returned the feeling by turning down potential free agency.

"I think I'm coming along well," Dunleavy said. "I got off to a rocky start early on. There were a lot of expectations, and they already had a bunch of players at my position. Through that, I've persevered, and I'm well on my way. I'm pleased with where I'm at and where I'm headed."

Dunleavy was a reserve as a rookie, averaging just 5.7 points and playing sparingly for coach Eric Musselman. Dunleavy's average increased to 11.7 points in his second year while he started 69 games, but the forward's solid passing was offset by spotty defense and an inconsistent perimeter game.

He improved quickly and finished strong last season under new coach Mike Montgomery, with 48 percent shooting -- 43 percent on 3-pointers -- over the final 34 games.

Chris Mullin, the Warriors' head of basketball operations, has long viewed Dunleavy as a key complement to Golden State's revamped lineup around Baron Davis. The extension, finalized about six hours before the deadline, capped weeks of negotiations between the Warriors and Dunleavy's agent, Arn Tellem.

"The way Mike performed, the way he conducted himself and the way we run our organization, we both felt it was something that we wanted," Mullin said. "We're still putting together a team and not just individuals. Mike's ability to play with the guys that we have on our roster, along with his age and his development ... are what it's about."

Dunleavy, who will make $4.5 million this season, is the son of Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy. The younger Dunleavy's first purchase with his new paycheck was two season tickets to watch the Warriors, who have sold more than 4,000 new season tickets in anticipation of the new year.

The contract is the latest in a series of hefty deals approved by Warriors owner Chris Cohan, who has been regularly castigated locally for his team's curious management decisions during 11 straight seasons out of the playoffs.

The Warriors now have long-term deals with Dunleavy, Davis, Jason Richardson, Troy Murphy, Derek Fisher and Adonal Foyle totaling roughly $313 million.

"I'm a big person on loyalty," Dunleavy said. "I really wanted to stay here and be here. They made me a very fair offer. I don't think Chris Cohan probably sees this as a discount, but I think it's fair for both sides."

Golden State also announced its opening-night roster for Wednesday's home game against Atlanta, and it included undrafted rookie guard Aaron Miles, the Big 12's career assists leader at Kansas. Injured forward Ike Diogu and fellow rookie Monta Ellis will open the year on the inactive list.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press