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Turiaf a Warrior

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The defending Western Conference champion Los Angeles Lakers have officially parted ways with one member of their once-vaunted bench.

As reported by the AP's John Nadel:

With great reluctance, the Los Angeles Lakers decided at Friday’s deadline they wouldn’t match Golden State’s offer for Ronny Turiaf, meaning the former second-round draft choice will move up the California coast to play for the Warriors.

The Warriors signed Turiaf, a restricted free agent, to a four-year, $17 million offer sheet last week. By rule, the Lakers had seven days to decide whether to match it. The three-year veteran from Gonzaga averaged 6.6 points and 3.9 rebounds in 78 games with the Western Conference champions last season, making 21 starts.

Good for Turiaf, fair enough for the Lakers, and we'll see what it means for Golden State.

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As we've mentioned before in this space, Turiaf's is one of the most feel-good stories across the Association.  He recovered from a rather concerning heart problem and turned himself into a mainstay in the Lakers' rotation.  The guy gives everything he has every time out and will do whatever he has to in order to track down loose balls or get a deflection or put his hand on an opposing shot.  A top-notch hustle guy all around.

That being said, the Lakers will have a logjam of their own in the frontcourt with the return of Andrew Bynum this season, and paying a back-up more than $4 million annually to do more than his share of sitting was a bit to steep for the purple and gold.  Makes enough sense.

Meanwhile, the jury is out on this move for the Warriors.  They already have a high-blocks, high-boards player in the pivot in Andris Biedrins, and while Turiaf adds toughness and hustle, he isn't much of a scorer.  He deserves credit for his shot-blocking (2.6 per 36 minutes for his career), but it's worth remembering that the Warriors just put up $17 million for a guy whose career averages of 12 points and 8 boards per 36 minutes aren't exactly blowing anybody away.  Time will tell.