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.