I've been a Golden State Warriors fan longer than I care to remember. In '75 with a regular season record of 48-34, they swept the heavily favored Washington Bullets featuring Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld 4-0 to win it all. Rick Barry was the series MVP, supported by Keith Wilkes, (he would become Jamaal later) Clifford Ray, and Phill Smith. The reason I wax nostalgic about this point in time, is because Warrior fans have been waiting for a repeat performance for 33 years now. "Run TMC" was by far the most entertaining basketball we had seen in years, but with no center, well...you know. Imagine my feelings of good fortune when they acquired one of my favorite players in Baron Davis. They also brought in Don Nelson, who tailored the offense to Davis' uptempo style. This was it. The difference maker. All we needed now was a force in the low post. Last years playoffs was just a sample of what was to come. The dunk over Kirilenko was a mission statement.
From that time until Monday night, Davis had been seeking a contract extention. The Warriors however have relented, citing Davis as injury prone. Davis was acquired from New Orleans in February of '05 while dealing with a number of nagging injuries. Prior to last years playoffs he had knee surgery, but played in 63 games and was ready for the playoff run. During the '07-'08 season Davis averaged 39 minutes a game and played all 82 games, while still being refused an extention. On Monday, Davis opted out of the last year of his contract.
I think it had become obvious that for whatever reason, the Warriors had decided to move in another direction. What I can't understand is why. Davis can score, pass, get to the bucket almost at will, and has publicly stated that Oakland is where he wanted to play. The injury prone excuse doesn't fly because the guy hasn't missed a game in over a year. Any problems he had before have been effectively taken care of. Making matters worse is the fact that the Warriors are reported to be prepared to offer Gilbert Arenas a max contract ($120 million) after 2 knee surgeries. After Baron's verbal agreement with the Clippers, the Warriors are also offering Elton Brand a max contract as well--after achilles tendon surgery.(about $90 million) Wait; let me get this straight. They'll offer max contracts to 2 guys just off the injury list, but won't make an offer for their franchise player, and citing his injury history as the reason? They could certainly have kept Davis had they been so inclined.
Davis will be hard to replace in Oakland. Given the fact that they let him walk without getting anything for him makes the matter even more perplexing. I wonder would I be considered a bandwagoner if I become a Clippers fan. I may not have another 33 years to wait.