In a shocking turn of events, Baron Davis opted out of the final year of his contract leaving $17.8 million on the table. He won't be able to make up that figure as a starting salary for his next deal, but he could opt for less and take the security that goes with it. Should the Warriors pursue a long term relationship with Baron Davis by reentering negotiations? Should they facilitate a sign and trade deal that allows any over the cap to get him? Or do they simply let him walk off to La-La land to become a Clipper?
I like the idea of re-signing Davis to a 4 year deal starting at $12.5 million and tapering down to $8.7 million. That's a 4 year/$42 million contract - enough for us to keep him until he's 33 years old but at the same time, his reasonable contract allows for enough cap flexibility to pursue some of the top free agents once Jackson and Harrington come off the books int he Summer of 2010. Any deal that adds more than $10 million to the roster in the Summer of 2010 or 2011 reduces our options and must be carefully considered. Personally, I would love for Davis to stay, but I doubt he will stay for what the Warriors are willing to dish out. Warriors should be cautious about over-paying for Baron Davis' services.
Working Out a Sign and Trade
Perhaps the best option would be to try and get something in return for the seemingly disgruntled Baron Davis. It doesn't look like he wants to remain a Warrior, so shipping him out to a team in desperate need of a point guard of his caliber could bring back young prospects, draft picks, or a combination of both. As what happened to Pietrus this past off-season when he and his agent were shopping for sign and trade options, the Warriors could hold their ground and refuse to accept any deal that they are not happy with. Mullin has set a precedent that he will not deal just for the sake of dealing and that he will hold firm in his compensation requirements or there is no deal.
There are two a catches. 1. Baron Davis has to agree to the trade. This limits the number of teams the Warriors can talk to considerably. 2. Whatever salary he is offered, the Warriors must take back in trade. If a team like the Knicks or Cavaliers are willing to pay him a starting salary of $16 million, the Warriors have to take back a considerable amount to match salaries and make the trade work. Finding filler contracts to match salaries could be the deal breaker if Mullin does not like anyone they are offering back in return for Baron Davis. They cannot just receive picks or a few young prospects under rookie contracts in return. If they are lucky, the Warriors might be able to find an interested party that has an asset that we covet (Shawn Marion, Josh Smith, Andre Iguodala, etc.). If so, it's an easy win-win for both parties.
Renounce His Rights or Let Him Walk
As of now, the Warriors have a cap hold of $24.7 million and cannot consider themselves under the salary cap until they renounce his rights or until Davis signs with another team under the cap. The Clippers look like the likely candidate to work such a deal since Elton Brand just opted out of his contract leaving the Clippers enough money to sign Davis to a long term deal while retaining Brand at a lower rate than his previous contract. Until one of the two events take place (renouncement of rights or Davis signing with another team) the Warriors won't be able to make big offers to prospective Free Agents.
What was already shaping up to be an exciting off-season of activity has now turned into the 'Mother of All Off-seasons." Not only do we have to resign our key players and sign new free agents to fill spots, we have to figure out how to make the most out of this curve ball Baron has just thrown the organization. Will we start the season without a true point guard? Will we lose Davis for nothing? Will the Clippers be willing to lock in Davis and abandon their frugal ways? We will find out as the tumultuous weeks of the off-season unfold.
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