Posted by: Wilson | July 10, 2008

Au Revoir to Ronny Turiaf?

I’ll see you up north!

Ronny Turiaf has reportedly been offered a contract of four years and $17 million by the Golden State Warriors. Not surprising, since Golden State is severely lacking in muscle down low. But, he is a restricted free agent, and the Lakers will have seven days to match the offer. What needs to be debated, is whether Ronny is worth the money and whether the Lakers really need him.

At $760,000 last season, Ronny was a bargain considering he was the first big off the bench. But he was also very productive with his minutes. I included a chart to compare Ronny with other bigs who are about the same age and roughly play the same amount of minutes. They are ranked by PER.

Age MPG PER PPG RPG Salary in 08-09
Craig Smith 24.0 20.1 16.7 9.4 4.6 Free agent
Brandon Bass 22.0 19.7 15.9 8.3 4.4 826 K
Ronny Turiaf 25.0 18.7 15.0 6.6 3.9 4.25 mill
Channing Frye 24.0 17.2 14.8 6.8 4.5 3.16 mill
DeSagana Diop 26.0 16.4 12.5 2.9 5.0 5.6 mill
Darius Songaila 29.0 19.4 11.8 6.2 3.4 4.24 mill
Josh Powell 25.0 19.2 10.7 5.5 5.2 854 K
Johan Petro 22.0 18.2 10.0 6.0 5.1 1.94 mill
Nenad Krstic 24.0 18.0 8.5 6.6 4.4 Free agent
Jared Jeffries 26.0 18.2 7.9 3.7 3.3 6.05 mill

Ronny is in the upper echelon of back-up big men in the league, so he is definitely worth the money. Amazingly, DeSagana Diop got handed the entire mid-level exception this offseason, despite his poor stats. And clearly, Jared Jeffries is another overpaid, under performing Knick. The big surprises are Brandon Bass and Craig Smith. Both are going to be very promising players in the future and will be paid a lot more.

If the Lakers let Ronny walk, they will be hard pressed to find another player who can replicate his production. He was a key part of the Mob last season, and his enthusiasm and morale-boosting were a key part of team chemistry. Chris Mihm may break down again, and the Lakers’ frontcourt depth was seriously exposed after him and Bynum went down. However, next season the Lakers are expected to be at full strength and Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Chris Mihm can all play center. Also, the Lakers are mired in the luxury tax situation. Essentially, because of tax penalties, Ronny’s contract will end up costing the Lakers $35 Million dollars over its four years. Is Ronny worth $8.75 million a year to the Lakers?

Ronny’s story in the league is amazing. After recovering from open heart surgery in ’05 he played in the NBA Finals in ’08. For his breakout season last year, Ronny is going to enjoy his financial success, but unfortunately it will likely be in a Warrior uniform. If Jerry Buss is willing to pay the tax and resign Turiaf, then great. But, he will also have to resign Sasha at a lot more money. The team chemistry will falter if Ronny leaves, but there are still guys like Derek Fisher, Pau Gasol and Luke Walton who will keep things peaceful. But, his presence on the bench will definitely be missed.

Always having fun

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