Murphy switching to center in Warriors' new offense
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Troy Murphy figures he's a perfect fit to shift to center in new coach Don Nelson's up-tempo offense. Adonal Foyle is determined to drop a few pounds and prove he deserves ample playing time, too.
Golden State Warriors
The 6-foot-11 Murphy will move from power forward to the middle for the Golden State Warriors this season, and Nelson plans to use Foyle -- who two years ago signed a cushy new six-year deal worth nearly $42 million -- more on a by-need, matchup basis.
Nelson is already doing many things differently from what his players have been used to as he begins his second stint coaching the Warriors. They have missed the playoffs in 12 straight seasons since Nellie last took this team to the postseason in 1994 during his initial tenure in Oakland.
Nelson, hired in a surprise move Aug. 30 to replace Mike Montgomery, is known for using four-guard lineups with an undersized center.
"That's great. I'm looking forward to it," Murphy said. "I've seen the way he uses big guys who can shoot. I'm excited to play for him. Playing against centers and more physical guys, that means centers also will be covering me, which is what we're looking for. I don't think there are any centers who can cover me. I'll have to do my best on defense. I think it's going to be really good."
Murphy has averaged a double-double in scoring and rebounding in three of his previous four seasons and ranked sixth in the league at 10 rebounds per game last season. He scored 14 points per game and made 78.7 percent of his free throws, a statistic that goes a long way with Nelson considering the coach knows how many close games Golden State lost at the line in the recent past.
"He's already shown me what I wanted to see -- him buying into playing center," Nelson said of Murphy. "If he's able to play some Five, it would really help in my scheme of things."
Nelson has made it clear he expects more than just Murphy to carry the rebounding load, calling for every player to improve his game and make adjustments to a new style of play.
He wants these men thin, and asked players to show up for training camp five pounds lighter.
"To run, everybody has to be in great shape," Murphy said. "You want to be in shape and you want to be lean and skinny. I'm sure as the season progresses and training camp progresses there will be adjustments I have to make."
Nelson is even demanding better free-throw shooting from stars Baron Davis and Jason Richardson if they want to be on the floor in crunch time -- and hasn't hidden the fact he wants Davis to lose a few pounds from his 6-3 frame.
Foyle, beginning his 10th NBA season after the Warriors selected him with the eighth overall pick in the 1997 draft, averaged 4.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game in 77 games last season and doesn't plan to sit on the bench without first doing his best to change Nelson's mind.
"Adonal is a wonderful person," Nelson said. "Certain nights he will play against the bigger centers and certain nights he won't play as much."
For Foyle, already hearing that Nelson expects him to assume a lesser role is disappointing. But the 6-10 center is down to 268 pounds from his playing weight of 277 last year and would like to be around 260 when the season tips off.
"What are you going to do? Part of the deal is you go along with the philosophy and you try to force the matter a little bit in terms of your play and make yourself more open to playing different positions and doing different things," Foyle said. "My job is to get into the best shape I can possibly get in and to be ready to show all the different dimensions of my game so he can see the cost of not playing me."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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