Sources: Warriors holding off on extending Davis' contract
Sources told ESPN.com that Davis' agent, Todd Ramasar, was informed in a meeting with the Warriors this week that the club prefers to wait until after the coming season to sign Davis to an extension, even though that opens up Golden State to the possibility of losing its point guard and leader in the 2008 free-agency market.
Davis can opt out of the final year of his contract and become a free agent July 1 if he's willing to sacrifice his 2008-09 salary of $17.8 million. But Golden State, sources say, is confident that it won't lose Davis even if he does opt out, believing that the former UCLA star won't want to leave his native California or the franchise that helped him resurrect his career.
Sources say Davis was seeking the maximum allowable extension from the Warriors, which in his case would have totaled nearly $65 million over three years. Davis announced recently that he has slimmed down to his lowest weight in years (213 pounds) and had been hoping to secure a new deal before Monday, when the Warriors convene for the annual media day that precedes the first day of training camp.
The Warriors, though, have followed up their stunning demolition of the 67-win Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs with a number of moves aimed at improving their long-term financial flexibility. The focus on fiscal responsibility, pushed by Warriors vice president Chris Mullin and team president Robert Rowell, led to the draft-night trade of Jason Richardson to Charlotte, buyouts of Adonal Foyle and Sarunas Jasikevicius and hard-line negotiating stances with free-agent forwards Matt Barnes and Mickael Pietrus (who remains unsigned) as well as coach Don Nelson.
Now Davis' negotiations can be added to the list. He had a massive role -- right up there with Nelson's and January acquisition Stephen Jackson -- in the Warriors halting a 12-season playoff drought and recording one of the biggest postseason upsets in league history. Yet just like Nelson, who only managed to score half of the $4 million he sought in additional guaranteed payments in his own summer-long contract wrangle, Davis has found his bosses unwilling to budge.
It appears that the Warriors, while noting that Davis hiked his 2006-07 scoring average from 20.1 points per game to 25.3 in the playoffs, want another full season to evaluate the 28-year-old's long-term health prospects before committing more millions to the player they've marketed as a face of the franchise. A variety of injuries has caused Davis to missed 47 games over the last two seasons and an average of 26 games over the past five seasons, giving Golden State understandable pause.
Yet there are risks attached to Golden State's strategy, this season and beyond. It remains to be seen whether Davis and Nelson, who have become close in their year together, will react to their respective snubs with told-you-so determination that keeps the Warriors on the rise -- or frustration that has the opposite effect.
Leaving the Warriors in free agency, furthermore, would likely require Davis to take a sizable pay cut elsewhere, but he might build up the motivation to do so after these talks broke down quickly and with Nelson's return for the 2008-09 season only at the Warriors' option.
Neither Davis nor Ramasar could be reached Friday. The Warriors declined comment.
"I'm very happy there," Davis told The Boston Globe earlier this month. "That's the place I want to be. I feel like I'm starting something new and I want to finish on a great note. What better place to do it than a place that hasn't had that kind of recognition and that was in the dumps for years and years? And now we have something that everyone wants to be a part of.
"For me, it's taking a team I've been with and struggled with for the last 2 1/2 years and we've been able to turn it around. We just have to see how much they trust me and want me."
The Warriors will have another window to try to sign Davis to an extension -- before he opts out and thus without competition from other clubs -- between the end of their 2007-08 season and July 1. With Davis' future on hold, Golden State's October focus now shifts to fourth-year center Andris Biedrins, who is eligible to receive a contract extension through Oct. 31 and, according to sources, expected to get his extension.
Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here.
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