By Tim Kawakami
Wednesday, September 26th, 2007 at 7:49 am in Warriors, NBA.
Oh my! The server’s back up after two days of intermittent and then fairly all-encompassing nothingness! That means I can blog again! Wait: That isn’t necessarily good news for anybody.
First things, first: From what I hear, Baron Davis definitely won’t be getting a rich contract extension by his self-administered Oct. 1 (or thereabouts) deadline and probably won’t get any new cash from the Warriors at any point this season.
Which could make things very interesting.
No new deal. Lots of talk. No new deal–that’s how I see it.
Let’s sum up the situation, starting with Davis’ perspective:
* He wants a two- or three-year contract extension from the Warriors that would take care of him through the age of 32 or 33, and he wants it now because he’s coming off one of the most dominant, healthy (well, relatively) and marketable periods of his career. So it’s time to press the issue.
* Davis, however, is signed for two more seasons at $16.4M/$17.1M, though he can opt out and become a free agent this summer.
* He looks like he’s in great shape, maybe the best of his career, maybe even better than he was in UCLA, and he’s the most dominant/marketable player they have (by a lot).
He’s 28, and he’s one of the top 10 players in the league when he’s motivated and healthy and the Warriors might never be able to replace him. That, of course, is his hammer.
He could leave. Contracturally, he could. If Davis finds the right market, he might leave, and put the kibosh on the Warriors’ bliss renaissance.
Very logical. Baron is no dummy, and he has already moved right along down the expected path: He’s starting to exert the pressure, and he has said that he wants a deal before training camp next week or he’ll decide right then to opt out at the end of this season.
* The Warriors gain nothing by giving up long-term money now, and they know it. Almost nothing–the only hazard is if the hardball upsets Baron and he either tanks the season (he’s done that before) or he’s so wound up that he can’t deliver the goods.
But that hurts Baron, too, since that’d only re-inforce his NBA reputation as a brilliant, yet unreliable player.
* If he pouts or gets hurt or leads a losing team or does all three, you think anybody else wants to sink $50M to 70M into him? Think he’ll deserve it?
Remember, when he was 25, the Warriors got him for practically nothing, despite his obvious talents. He’s not 25 any more.
* Baron’s a health risk, no question: He’s missed 33.8% of his teams’ regular-season games the past three seasons and there’s every reason to believe he’ll miss 30% or more of every regular season for the rest of his career.
The Warriors are very, very aware of the 33.8% number. They’d be fools not to be aware of it. They’re not foolish with money any more–just ask Mickael Pietrus, Matt Barnes and Don Nelson.
* Baron’s already under contract for two more years, which will take him through his 30th birthday, so anything else the Warriors do contracturally takes them into dangerous age territory for an explosive point guard.
(Steve Nash, chugging into his mid-30s, is the rare exception among point guards. Jason Kidd, too. But they don’t use their legs as much as Baron. Explosive players of any kind usually start fading at 30 or 31.)
* Remember, Davis can’t opt-out until after this season. So if the Warriors extend him, they have to extend the deal beyond 2008-2009…
That means a two-year extension at, say, $19M per, would push their commitment to Baron to $71.5M through 2010-2011. (And that’s what Baron would want.)
71.5M is way too much. WAAAY too much.
* If Davis opts out, he’d be erasing a $17.1M salary. It’s very unlikely that A) there will be many–or any–teams that will be $17M under the cap next summer, or B) he’d want to play for any of those rare under-the-cap teams.
* For instance, the LA Clippers: Baron’s from LA, LA loves him, LA LA LA LA Baron Baron Baron. “Desperate Housewives.” The whole deal.
Except: The Clippers are already committed to pay seven players $48M in 2008-2009, with the cap expected to be in the mid-50s.
I can promise you that $48M committed now means the Clippers will be in the high-50s by next summer just filling out their roster, without any whisper of Baron Davis. That means no free money for BD.
Unless the Clippers find willing takers for their bad contracts (and they have Chris Kaman, Cuttino Mobley and Tim Thomas gouging them for years and years, so probably not), there’s no way they’re anywhere close to under the cap next summer.
And no, I don’t think the Warriors would want Kaman, Mobley or Thomas in a BD trade. Or any trade. Or any garbage sale.
* What about those fun Lakers we always love to mention? You know, BD loves Kobe Bryant, BD is practically a son to Magic Johnson, is it a junior exec trainee? Yeah, those Lakers…
Well, Kobe might not be with the Lakers after this season, so I don’t know if that helps Baron’s love of the Lakers. Probably doesn’t.
Plus, Kobe can’t opt-out of his deal until after 2008-2009, so there’s no way to make his $21.3M salary disappear from the payroll (if the Lakers trade him, they’ll have to take back similar salaries).
Same thing with Lamar Odom or Andrew Bynum–even if they end up trading both or either (latest rumor is Shawn Marion, though I doubt this one), they’ll end up replacing Odom or Bynum’s salaries with other similar salaries. That’s the way it works.
So that means the Lakers are already committed to about $54M for 2008-2009 and, yes, that means they’re not players for Baron in the free-agent market.
* Unless, of course, he takes an INCREDIBLE pay-cut just to be in LA. Or a pay-cut to bolt somewhere else. But probably LA, that’s what I always hear.
Not just any pay-cut. He’d have to take the mid-level exception to do it without the Warriors’ help in a sign-and-trade–and if you think Chris Mullin can be stubborn about refusing to do a sign-and-trade with Pietrus, imagine what he can do to frustrate Baron Davis and the Lakers.
Mid-level exception: Starts at about $5.8M to $6M. Baron’s salary if he doesn’t opt-out: $17.1M. That’s an $11M difference, and that gets driven up every year of any new deal.
You know, I don’t think the Warriors are too scared about the mid-level exception scenario.
* OK, say Davis does opt-out: You know who can pay him the most and would be willing to? The Warriors.
The Warriors would have another year to see if Davis can stay healthy and happy. They’d presumably, if things go well, have another successful season to cherish.
At that point, if Baron opts-out, the Warriors can give him a two-year deal through 2009-2010. He’d be worth a two-year deal.
Or the Warriors could extend him before he opts-out, which is the more likely proposition (gets him that extra year), and he re-ups through 2010-2011.
Nobody will love Baron more than the Warriors if he gives them back-to-back playoff runs. Nobody.
* Let’s go to the worst-case scenario for the Warriors: Baron opts-out next summer, he’s furious at the Warriors, he wants out and only out.
Two good options even from that for the Warriors:
1. They can sign-and-trade him if there’s anybody out there who wants Davis and has a player or players of similar salary/talents.
Hello Washington Wizards and Gilbert Arenas? (Gilbert’s not as good as Baron–but he’s younger, he has already said he’s opting out next summer, and fits nicely in Nellie ball.)
2. If Baron just signs with another team outright, poof, that $17.1M comes right off the Warriors’ payroll…
And leaves them with only $34M committed for 2008-2009. If they extend Andris Biedrins in October (which I assume they will), that bumps it to about $39M without Baron.
Folks, that’s about $15M under the cap with Biedrins, more than $20M if the Warriors hold off on the Biedrins deal until next summer.
For $20M, you can go shopping. There will be huge free-agents available, even point guards. Like Gilbert.
* Sitting and waiting to see what Baron does is the smart thing, even if it irritates Baron.
Oh, he’ll probably sit with Nelson and they’ll both grumble about Chris Cohan and Robert Rowell–and I don’t think BD and Nellie will be wholly incorrect.
(* One sensible option is the Warriors offering a one-year extension, through 2009-2010, at about $15M, and Baron accepting it, guaranteeing himself $48M over the next three seasons.
(But I doubt it’ll happen: Baron’s at the spot in his career where he wants the killer deal or nothing. $48M over three–expiring when he’s 31, which would make another huge deal very unlikely–isn’t the killer deal for a player of his caliber. Even if it’s reasonable.)
BD and Nellie saved this franchise last year. That’s worth something.
But Nellie’s getting $5.1M guaranteed this season. That’s something.
And Baron’s guaranteed more than $33M for the next two seasons, if he wants it, and if he has another great playoff run, he’ll get monster money from somebody next summer, probably the Warriors.
All he has to do is wait. He doesn’t want to wait. He might get very ornery if he waits.
But if he gets ornery and plays lousy, he’ll prove he doesn’t deserve another $40M+. If he gets hurt, I’m sorry, he definitely doesn’t deserve it.
Oh, I think he wants to prove he deserves it. I think he wants that very much.
Baron and Nellie, if I know them, will dedicate themselves and this season to showing all the world how much the Warriors short-changed them this summer.
End result: Possibly a tremendous 2007-2008 season for the Warriors, who also have every advantage to keep both men around for 2008-2009, if they want.
That’s how it’s going to work out. It’s so easy to figure I can’t believe I just typed so much to explain it.
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The Broe Knows Dont Hate....
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sure the wizzards will be able to throw a big deal at gilbert, but so can other teams, so why wouldn't he opt out? he's probably not feelin D.C., dont blame him, i think he liked california and he knows he had big love here in G.S. he had to get paid, did what he had to do. now he can come back, and get paid..that of course if baron opted out and a few other things happened.
"Losing is inevitably close to winning," Guber said. "They're inches apart. Drama. If you have drama, you've got a ticket to sell." "They're not real fans," Lacob said. "They don't have season tickets."
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