UPDATING AT 7:45 p.m. WITH OUR EARLY STORY:
What promised to be a tumultuous offseason for the Warriors was kicked into overdrive Monday when point guard Baron Davis left $17.8 million on the table and opted out of the final year of his contract, becoming an unrestricted free agent and throwing Golden State’s immediate plans into confusion.
Davis has maintained for months that he wants to remain a Warrior, and according to one team source was telling teammates last week that he would not opt out, but with mere hours to spare the man most responsible for breaking Golden State’s 12-season playoff drought reversed course dramatically.
With talks on a contract extension going nowhere, Davis played the last major piece of leverage he had. Although he is unlikely in the short term to recoup that $17.8 million — the final piece of a six-year max deal he signed with the New Orleans Hornets in 2002 — he can now negotiate a long-term deal with another team to try to set up a sign-and-trade situation.
The move leaves the Warriors with some unexpected room under the salary cap, although the exact amount won’t be known until the team sets its 2008-09 figures next week. Golden State currently has only six players currently under contract — starters Al Harrington and Stephen Jackson, plus untested youngsters Marco Belinelli, Kosta Perovic, C.J. Watson and Brandan Wright — although it holds matching rights on three restricted free agents, including young stars Andris Biedrins and Monta Ellis.
Just got confirmation from the Warriors: Baron Davis, the man who led Golden State to its first playoff berth in 13 seasons, has opted out from the final year of his deal, passing up $17.8 million in order to gain his freedom after talks about an extension went pretty much nowhere.
More to come later.
Talked to Mullin a little while ago, and here’s what he said:
““It’ll probably expire. If the right player is there, it’s an opportunity we would take. But with a lot of our pending situations coming up … you don’t want to put yourself in jeopardy with those guys.”
Translation: In the absence of an Earth-shattering move — think Carlos Boozer or Shawn Marion — the Warriors are saving their pennies to give to Andris and Monta.
It’s not dead yet, but as of 4 p.m., the Warriors have not made a move that utilizes their expiring-in-8-hours trade exception. And as a Warriors official pointed out, both executive vice president Chris Mullin and his No. 2, salary-cap guru Pete D’Alessandro, were in attendance at the team’s press conference, which most assuredly would not be the case if the team was in the throes of finalizing a deal.
… whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous luxury-tax payments or take arms against a sea of poor trade options.
OK, OK, I’ll stop massacring the words of poor William Shakespeare. But today is the day: the Warriors have until midnight California time to make a deal and bring in a player to “complete” the Jason Richardson transaction on the salary-cap ledger.
Chris Wilcox? Kyle Lowry? Javaris Crittendon? Brian Cardinal? OK, maybe not that last one.
Based on Chris Mullin’s conversations with the media in recent weeks and what we know of the team’s financial realism as imposed by Robert Rowell, the biggest problem is this: Using even $5 million of the exception will almost certainly guarantee the Warriors pay the luxury tax next summer. And Mullin isn’t going to be able to sell that unless he’s sure the player it nets will push his team into the top four Western Conference squads. And a player of that caliber is most likely going to have made more than $10,099,999 in 2007-08, which that the maximum amount that the Warriors can take on. (BTW, this is why Chicago guard Kirk Hinrich is not a possibility for the exception — his front-loaded contract paid him $11 million in 2007-08.)
Wilcox would provide another option at power forward, but though he probably could be had, word out of Seattle is that the Sonics are not desperate to move him.
Lowry or Crittendon would make sense as a backup point guard, but not if the Grizzlies, who took on an added contract load (Marko Jaric and Greg Buckner) in order to pry O.J. Mayo away from Minnesota, want to offload additional salaries on the Warriors’ books.
If something does happen, expect it to take place relatively early this afternoon. While the exception does not technically expire until midnight local time, it’s very likely that any movement will be finished before the close of business in New York, unless it’s a deal for a player who suddenly becomes available at the last minute.
I was hoping Chris Douglas-Roberts was going to fall to the Warriors. Dropping to 49 was way too for to realistically expect, but I was hoping the Warriors would trade up to nab him. He would be perfect for the Warriors. Highly skilled offensively, perfect in the uptempo system, ready to play now. He would’ve been a super steal in the second round.
Just to let you all in on a little info, during Chris Mullin’s interview with Tim Roye, Mullin dropped a veiled hint about what is coming next.
Roye: “And now wait until the 49th?”
Mullin: “Maybe something before that.”
Roye: “Stay tuned?”
Mullin: “Yeah, why not?”
Is Mullin messing with our emotions, or tipping us to the coming activity? Tease.
For once, the draft gods smile on the Warriors: Anthony Randolph, expected by many to be gone by the time Golden State drafted at 14, slipped through to the team with the worst lottery luck in NBA history.
It’s a pick that’s may not make much impact for next season — at 6-10 and 197 pounds, Randolph is in many ways a clone of Brandan Wright, and Wright earned only 376 minutes out of Don Nelson as a rookie last year — but adds another athletically gifted piece to the Warriors’ long-term plan.
Best line of the night so far comes from ESPN’s Jay Bilas: “(Randolph) makes Brandan Wright look like Mr. America.”