66

Well, well, well

Where to begin? Of all the things I thought might happen to the Warriors this summer — and that’s a mighty lengthy list — Baron Davis passing on $17.8 million is not one of them. Of course, that’s because Baron was telling everyone who would listen it wouldn’t happen.

First off, let’s cover some turf that was discussed in the story you’ll never read — the one I sent into the office around 6 p.m. or so last night, or just in time for me to call back within the hour and say, “Tear that sucker up.”

Obviously, this was before BD dropped his bombshell, so I’m not sure this stuff still has relevance in the new Warriors world, but . . .

Don Nelson had this to say at Monday’s press conference for rookie picks Anthony Randolph and Richard Hendrix: “Matt Barnes and Cro, those guys will not be back, so there’s going to be some minutes there (at the forward spots). The team is going to take on a different shape, a different look. So there will be more opportunities for our youth.”

Chris Mullin didn’t necessarily agree, but did say it wasn’t realistic to think the Warriors could bring back both Barnes and Mickael Pietrus. And he said Patrick O’Bryant is as good as gone.

For his part, Barnes said, via text message: “(Nelson) is the boss. I would love to be a Warrior. I owe so much to Nellie and to the organization. But with the tough season I had last year, it doesn’t look like I’m wanted. . . . This is a cold game and a tough business.”

As for the point guard . . .

Here’s a Nelson quote that I couldn’t get into the paper due to language restrictions: “Opting out of a $17 million contract, that’s ballsy. Nobody can say Baron doesn’t have balls.”

Although I’m sure that a certain radio host who’s not a media member will disagree with me, the Warriors most definitely have been lowballing Baron. Consider this: When Chauncey Billups was 15 months older than BD is now, he got four guaranteed years worth approximately $11.5 million per season. When Steve Nash was 18 months older than BD is now, he got five guaranteed years worth $13 million per. BD was being asked to take significantly less security than that.

Thing is, nobody should be shocked by this turn of events. Lowballing has been the Warriors’ default negotiating position for a few years now; it’s how they chiseled Barnes down to a lone season at $3 million after his breakout year in 2006-07, and how they forced Pietrus to eat the one-year qualifying offer last season. It’s why the books look better and has worked for the team.

In this instance, however, it appears to have backfired. The Warriors have had plenty of opportunities to discuss an extension, but by sticking with their usual modus operandi, when Elton Brand opted out with the caveat that he’s returning to the Clippers, the opportunity was there for Davis to go home. And he’s jumping at it. According to multiple sources and several different reports, he will try to head to L.A. as a free agent as soon as possible, with Brand taking a less-than-max deal to make it happen.

“We’re grown-ups, and we understood that it was a possibility,” Nelson said. “We didn’t think it would happen, but it did and we’ll deal with it.”

According to the Washington Post, the Warriors’ first thought in dealing with it was to make a run at Gilbert Arenas, which would be great except — as always when it comes to Agent Zero and this franchise — the salary-cap cards are stacked against the W’s. The Wizards can and are willing, according to the Post, to pay Arenas for one more year than the Warriors can (six versus five), and can give 10.5 percent yearly raises instead of the 8 percent that Golden State can give. The total amounts will depend on the salary cap numbers, since the maximum allowable starting salary is a percentage of the cap.

If Arenas is not an option, where do they go next? Atlanta forward Josh Smith, an RFA, would fill the Warriors’ hole at power forward, but the contract would have to be large enough to make the Hawks give up on matching the deal. And that presumes Monta Ellis is ready to run the team on his own.

– Geoff

Geoff Lepper

Geoff Lepper has covered the Warriors since 2005 for the Oakland Tribune and Contra Costa Times. Before that, he covered baseball and college sports for the Marin Independent Journal.

  • I Liked Clifford Ray Richardson

    It just really pisses me off to see the dubs lost BD. I mean, how in the world do you let your best player go and get nothing in return? I know a lot of you are “looking at the so-called bright side”. But, there is no bright side to a bad deal. I know the dubs have a lot of players with high potential, but BD was proven. The guy wasn’t being slimy or greedy, he wanted a long term contract. It’s called job stability and, I don’t know anyone with a regular 9 -5 taht doesn’t want that.

  • Pale Rider

    Let’s get real guys…

    No way an organization on the cusp of contending can gamble $65 mill for five years on ANY 29 year old point guard. You can find 2-3 examples of 31+ year old guys playing at a high level, but most are on a steep down slope by that age. Would have been great to keep BD for a year or two more, but that’s all you can reasonably hope for with his history. So, if the Clippers offer crazy money, it’s best to move on.

    The centerpiece of the future is Monta, regardless if he plays 1 or 2. Personally, I think Azubuike and Pietrus are complementary players with different skills that fit nicely into the 2 or 3 rotation. Stephen Jackson can still lead/contribute as a 2 or 3 for another year or two. Wright must step up big at the 4. From his limited minutes last year, he shows a lot of promise. Andris is servicable at the 5, but we need some more flexibility at the position when we run into the beefy frontlines.

    Harrington could be great at a couple of positions, given his versatility. He would be great to hang on to, if his head is right. Bellinelli just has to show he won’t get scorched on D every time he’s on the floor and he could work in to the guard rotation as well. I am still hoping he can be the W’s version of Manu Ginoballi, though he’s more of a shooter than a slasher…still he could be used as a “spark” kind of guy.

    Randolf & Hendrix, who knows…hopefully we can get some useful minutes out of them, particularly Hendrix at 4, where we can get pushed around. We do need some true point guard backup minutes.

    Now that we know Baron is gone and Udrih will re-sign, I’d look hard at Duhon. He’s a pass first, defense kind of PG which could be a complementary role for some minutes at the 1. Not a killer contract either.

    I’d also, hold your breath, sniff around Kwame Brown at as backup 5. I know, I know, it’s Kwame Brown, but the guy’s 6’11″, 270 and can run. He can come off the bench and be an energy guy, with low expectations. Since his price will be low, he could be worth the risk.

    Hopefully, the team will revolve around Monta, Wright & Jackson this year with Randolf stepping into Jack’s role a couple of years from now. If this all plays out, we could still be competitive and maybe even improve a bit in the near term. If our young core develops, we could contend in the west.

    Forget Maggette, Josh Smith, Arenas…those guys are not going to get us contending and would either interupt development of our core or would change the personality of the team too much.

    Keep it real, W’s…

  • EJ

    i think it would’ve been a mistake giving him a 5 year deal. this was going to be monta’s team in a couple of years anyway. i can’t be mad at baron. if you’re a 29 year old point guard with a history of injuries and someone from home offers you 100mil over the next 5 seasons, you take it. i just wish he would’ve opted out before the draft. i wonder how that might have impacted the warriors selections? i like randolph, but i’d like to see the warriors go after josh smith (who i think will be better than shawn marion). if the warriors were at all serious at retaining davis, they would’ve locked him up before the draft.

    what will be interesting is to see how gets along with coach dunleavy.

  • Dave

    Fact is this is complete inept management.

    Number on rule of sports is get along with your star player and take care of him. So even if BD wasn’t in the long term plans you work with him to get him his coin and not wind up with nothing.

    They haven’t even started negotiating with Monta?

    They low balled AB last season.

    Remember how Arenas left? J-Rich?

    The problem is the Cohan regime refuses to respect players or fans and now has a well earned reputation that absolutely impedes the team’s ability to improve.

    Nobody wants to come play for this ownership and management and that is the single biggest problem.

    You cannot have all star type players like Arenas, BD, J-Rich and even marginal guys like MP, AB, Damp or Foyle continuing to rag on the organization. In the small world of the NBA perception = reality.

    Expect AH and Jax to request trades immediately.

    Nothing will change until Cohan sells this team! Even if he is willing to spend the money, which I doubt, he is clueless about class and integrity.

    There is no respect for the players or the fandom. I am done with this team unless someone buys it.

  • Danzster

    The Dubs boxed themselves into a corner. Internally, their long term development strategy was finally getting some credibility ( Monta, Andris, Wright, and hopefully Randolph) but was being balanced against their 2007 miracle season and hightened expectations, the result of two good Mullin decisions ( BD and Nelson) and a lucky homerun when “The Trade” landed us two hard nosed players for two miscast role players(Mullin “learning curve” mistakes), wrapped around the improbable magic of our playoff victory over Dallas.

    That fooled too many of us into believing that, by simply having some of our young players get one year better and having Jack and Al for a full season, we were a complete and playoff caliber team.

    Not so fast, and not in the West. The tried and true “formula” is a minimum of two horses, and more recently three studs are required to take you deep into the playoffs and a legitmate chance at a championship. The W’s only had one player that could be cast in that role, and he is ……was…..a long term question mark due to his injury history. The rest of our team was either very young and in need of experience, or very good role players (4th and 5th options on a championship team).

    So, our mgmt gurus were left with this scenario: Just when the W’s youth movement is finally ready to really pay off, say in 2010 or 2011, Baron is likely on IR, more interested in SoCal and his post NBA career in entertainment, sucking up big cap numbers,and the Stephen Jack / Barnes / Harrington magic of 2007 is a distant memory. And, while Monta and Andris and Brandon all have the potential to be a “horse”, they also have flaws that may or may not be resolved.

    So, the “win it now” strategy of giving Baron what he wanted would still require trading or signing for one more stud (An immediate answer for prime time boards and matching up with the other guys’ inside power). That would have most assuredly meant trading one or two of our Youth Guys, and abandoning our “tall and athletic” vision of the future.

    If we were a team, prior to 2007, without 13 consequtive years of playoff drought, most Bay Area fans would weigh the risks of a long term BD signing, and give the mgmt group the benefit of the doubt. Since that is not the case, I suspect that this year, if we go forward with the current roster plus one new 2nd Tier point guard to backstop the Monta at the point project, you will see empty seats in the 2nd Deck and hear very angry comments directed at Mully and Nelson……..and at Jack, if he is still here. His previous emotional outbursts fueled our desires to fight back. If we are 10 games under 500 in mid-January, the fans won’t be in a “fight back” mode…….we will simply be pissed off! At everybody, but most directly at ourselves for “Continuing to Believe”.

    So, we are now left with two choices: Mully lands a stud who will be a prime time player two years from now as well as today (Gilbert, come home!)or, to stand pat for one year and jump into the FA market next year with all of that sexy cap room we now have.

    Given the teams fiscally conservative approach and the probability of landing a Gilby type FA, I think scenario #2 is more likely. Which means, next years highlights are most likely not going to be about a playoff run, but more about that highlight reel slam that Wright grabbed three feet above the rim.

    And, about speculation for the summer of 2009. Will we spend the $$$ and land the missing stud, or throw the opportunity out of bounds? Hey…….it’s not like we haven’t been here before!!!!

  • EJ

    harrington and perovic for larry hughes.

  • Mr B

    We are saving $$ for Salary Cap but for what? Ws have been doing that for years but don’t have anything to show for it – no star players…

    Baron did not play a full season – agreed. At the end of the day, he was there at the end of the season to help and try to get us into the playoffs. He delivered during the playoffs. If had a better team around him, Ws could have gone deeper into the playoffs. Now the options being throw around are Josh Smith? Jason Terry? If your lucky Chauncey Billups??
    Holly Molly!!

    Should have given him the money and played for three to four years. His expiring contract would have been attractive to other teams for a trade down the line.

  • EJ

    correction. i put 100mil instead of 65.

  • CO_GSWfan

    Baron will not regret this move. It gives him some long term security and take him home to LA. It is the Clippers who will regret overpaying him … especially come years 3, 4 and 5 of this contract.

  • Jaysohn

    The Warriors were stuck between damned if you do, damned if you don’t with Baron. If they had signed BD to a long term contract along with Beidrins and Monta then what? At best they would have continued to fight for the last playoff spot in the West for 2 or 3 years with no real shot at being a top contender. Baron is a very good player but not a great player. He’s probably the 4th best point guard in the West behind Nash, Deron Williams and CP4. What the Warriors desperately need is for one of their young players to develop into a star, a difference maker. That is where Baron will be missed the most but I believe Baron had taken this team as far as his talents were going to take them. Nellie and Baron made the Warriors relevant again but their style of play can only take a team so far. If Mully can make a few right moves we should end up with a more balanced team with a brighter future.

  • bleedingfinger

    guys, lay off mullin! think about it; if its true that the dubs were offering a 2 year contract, and the clips a 5 year deal, baron has no choice but to go to LA. But by offering him 2 years, mullin did the SMART thing. As much as everyone loves BDiddy, he has always been hurt, and even tho he played 82 games last year, am I the only one that remembers that he was almost completely invisible the last 6 weeks of the season?

    We have a boatload of $$$ now, so before we rip management, let due process run and see if they can get Josh Smith or J. Crittenden and go from there. If they sit on this money and do nothing, then i’ll be on my megaphone ripping Mully and co along with the rest of the ‘Dub nation.

  • Jaysohn

    Please please stop bringing up Arenas as an example of the Warriors making a bad decision. It has been noted over and over again that the Warriors could not offer Arenas anything close to what his market value was due to the rules at the time. There was nothing they could do to keep him. That’s why the rule was changed afterwards. Also its uninformed to suggest that the Warriors don’t spend enough money. In fact with Dunleavy, Murphy, Richardson and Foyle the problem was that they spent too much money on mediocre players just to show loyalty and commitement. The Warriors play within the salary cap limits just like almost every other team in the NBA outside of the Knicks and maybe the Lakers. The Spurs and Detroit our top teams and they don’t spend anymore on players. The issue is spending the right amount of money on the right players. It helps when you have an all-star and a top 25 player or two to build around. That has always been the Warriors problem. As good as Baron is he’s not a player like Lebron, Duncan, Kobe or even Chris Paul that you can build a playoff team around and the Warriors could not afford to pay him like he is. Thats the reality that Mully was faced with and what we as fans have to wake up to.

  • darkknight01

    i think the W’s played the cards wrong with Baron.

    They could have signed him and traded him….instead they let him walk away without anything to show for it? Not good. Somebody fell asleep at the wheel and should have maintained conversations with Baron or his agent the day of the opt out deadline or the day before….so that the W’s knew his true intentions and planned accordingly. Lets hope they get Arenas or Brand otherwise ownership just suckered season ticket holders.

  • darkknight01

    I think the W’s should sign Brand and then trade Harrington to Detroit for Billups.

  • john

    Geoff,

    great writing. i listened to you on knbr last week when Bob Fitzgerald went all “homer” on you. totally gutless and classes act on his part. the guy is a complete hack-

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