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The Hoop Doctors

Is Baron Davis leaving the Golden State Warriors this Summer?

Baron Davis - Golden State Warriors
May 11th, 2008 – Dr. Dime

Baron Davis has one more year left on his six year, $84 million contract extension he signed with the New Orleans Hornets, before getting traded to the Golden State Warriors. What some fans in Golden State weren’t aware of regarding Davis’ contract is the player option he has to void the final year of his contract. Davis has until June 30th of this year to exercise that option and if he so chooses, he can become an unrestricted free agent this summer and sign with any team in the league of his choice.

Is Baron Davis really going to leave Golden State? The city he helped put back on the basketball map for the first time since the days of Tim Hardaway and Chris Mullin. Speaking of Mullin, he is now the Warriors executive vice president, whom Davis and his agent are in contract negotiations with.

Davis’ agent Todd Ramasar has been negotiating informally with the Warriors since the playoffs began, trying to get his client a contract extension. Baron is now 29 years old and some would say entering the prime of his career. On the other hand, some (including the Warriors executives) may be concerned about signing a point guard who is entering his 30’s, which historically is considered an age where the play of point guards begins to decline.

Hey Chris Mullin, how well did that line of thinking work out for Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks when they chose not to resign point guard Steve Nash? The Mavericks low-balled a contract offer to Nash, which led to him quickly bolting for the Phoenix Suns, where he proceeded to rejuvenate his new team into a Western Conference powerhouse, win two straight MVP awards, and narrowly miss a third.

Granted the ageless Steve Nash may have been an anomaly, and Nash definitely didn’t have anywhere near the health history and troubles with nagging injuries that Baron Davis has had. That said, Nash also didn’t have anywhere near the physical gifts and potential that a player of Davis’ caliber has.

Over the last few weeks Mullin has stated repeatedly he did not want to begin these contract negotiations with Davis until after June 30th. While Mullin may have believed that this would put him in a greater negotiating position given that Davis would be locked into at least one more season with the Warriors, it also was a giant signal to the Warriors star point guard that the organization was going to try to save a few bucks once the contract negotiations began. Clearly if their number one priority was making sure the extension was a done deal, they wouldn’t have been concerned about his opt-out deadline of June 30th. They would have just signed Davis for an extension of fair market value, end of story.

What is fair market value?

Well some may look at the contract of Jason Kidd (six years, $103 million) as a bit excessive. Davis himself has said that he doesn’t expect to be a “max player” and try to bleed the franchise dry. Given that Davis is 29 yrs old now, he may be willing to give up a few dollars on an annual basis in order to sign a longer-term contract and secure his future. If that is the case Davis’ market value and an appealing contract may look something similar to the Gilbert Arenas (six year, $65 million) or Steve Nash (six year, $63 million) contracts. To please the Warriors executives maybe the contract could be end loaded, and build in annual ‘games played’ or ‘health’ bonuses similar to the contracts of Marcus Camby and other NBA players who have had a history of injury issues.

Seems simple right? Just get it done then; no one in Oakland wants to see B.Diddy leave for another franchise.

Unfortunately for the Golden State Warriors fans and the fans of Boom Dizzle himself, the NBA is a business and nothing is that simple. Coming off the heels of some pretty poor business decisions involving what some might call “overly inflated” contracts given to Adonal Foyle, Danny Fortson, Erick Dampier, Troy Murphy, Mike Dunleavy, and even Jason Richardson, the Warriors seem to have now adopted a more fiscally responsible strategy. What most Warriors fans now are praying is that this new “strategy” doesn’t cost them their superstar, and put them quickly back to their pre-Davis status of bottom-dwellers in the Western Conference.

With the anticipation building on how this will all play out. Did anyone think to stop and ask the Oracle?

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