Just when the Warriors extricated themselves from a sticky situation involving coach Don Nelson, here comes another potential issue. This one involves point guard Baron Davis and his desire to secure a contract extension before the start of the season.
Nelson got his new deal. Is Davis next?
Davis, who spearheaded the Warriors’ playoff run a year ago, can opt out of his contract after 2007-08 and become a free agent. He said recently that if he doesn’t get an extension from the Warriors, he’ll test the waters in the offseason.
It’s quite a predicament.
If the Warriors give Davis a contract extension, it will likely start around $15 million. That’s pretty much the going rate for a superstar who was good enough last season to lead the Warriors to their first postseason appearance in 13 years.
Not only that, Davis pushed the Warriors into the second round of the playoffs, a destination that stars such as Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming, Carmelo Anthony and Pau Gasol have yet to reach.
Then again, investing upwards of $50 million in Davis (assuming the extension is for at least three years) is a risky proposition considering he has missed significant portions of each of the past five seasons. Since 2002, Davis has missed a total of 130 games because of injury, not the kind of durability you covet from your star.
There is a very real concern that Davis’ days of playing more than 60 regular-season games are over. Simply put, there doesn’t seem to be any way Davis can hold up for an entire season, then have the wherewithal to deliver like he did in the playoffs.
On the one hand, you can live with Davis missing games during the regular season if he is going to play at the level he did in the playoffs against Dallas and Utah. The problem is that the Warriors might not even make the playoffs if Davis misses too many games in January and February.
In other words, what good is a rested Davis in April if the Warriors aren’t going to be playing in May?
But not extending Davis comes with consequences, too.
It’s certainly a risky proposition for the Warriors to put off a contract extension for Davis and then expect him to forget about it, not take it personally and go ahead and have a monster season. If there’s one thing Davis has shown over the course of his career, it’s that he’s a better player when he’s in sync with the franchise he’s playing for.
So, do the Warriors gamble and extend Davis, a player in the prime of his career but with a history of injury? Or do they gamble and not extend him?
That’s a tough one for the Warriors.
Matt Steinmetz is the NBA insider for Warriors telecasts on Fox Sports Net.