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Posted: Wednesday July 2, 2008 11:51AM; Updated: Thursday July 3, 2008 12:25PM
Marty Burns Marty Burns >
INSIDE THE NBA

Warriors left to pick up pieces after Davis' departure to Los Angeles

Story Highlights
  • Baron Davis' departure could leave Warriors $16 million in salary-cap space
  • Warriors have pledged to retain free agents Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins
  • Golden State may prepare contract offer for free agent Corey Maggette
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With $16 million in salary-cap space unexpectedly available, the Warriors may try to sign free-agent swingman Corey Maggette.
With $16 million in salary-cap space unexpectedly available, the Warriors may try to sign free-agent swingman Corey Maggette.
John W. McDonough/SI
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Baron Davis just skipped town. Gilbert Arenas isn't coming. And Don Nelson has one foot out the door.

No, it has not been a good offseason for the Warriors. In fact, one might say Golden State's immediate future just got as hazy as the fog that often shrouds the Golden Gate Bridge.

The news Tuesday night that Davis was bolting the Bay Area to sign a five-year, $65 million deal with his hometown Clippers leaves Golden State in a heap of trouble. While it might be too early to say the Warriors will be back to their doormat status, it is fair to wonder if that fun little run to the '07 playoffs might turn out to be a one-and-done deal.

The Warriors didn't make the postseason a year ago with Davis. The teams just ahead of them, the Mavs and Nuggets, will be back just as strong next season. Meanwhile, the Warriors now have to contend with a refortified Clippers team and a Blazers squad that will be adding a healthy Greg Oden.

Throw in Nelson's status as a lame-duck coach likely to retire after the season, and it looks as if Golden State could be in for some rocky days.

True, the Warriors now could have some $16 million in space under the salary cap to sign a top-tier free agent. But who out there is going to replace Davis as the team's quarterback?

Arenas, the obvious choice, is said to be close to re-signing with the Wizards. They reportedly have offered the All-Star point guard a six-year deal worth some $120 million; that's a lot more than the Warriors can offer. Arenas is also very close to Wizards owner Abe Pollin and has told teammates he expected to be back.

In other words, Agent Zero is not coming back to save the day in the Bay.

The Warriors, meanwhile, still have two key restricted free agents of their own in Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins. GM Chris Mullin says he will match any offers, but it could take weeks. In the meantime, Golden State might lose out on other prospective candidates.

The Warriors reportedly plan to meet Wednesday with representatives of Ellis. The third-year combo guard blossomed into a star last season, showing the ability to shoot from mid-range as well as take it to the basket. He might have to be the starting point guard now with Davis gone.

Ellis is said to be coveted by several teams, including the Cavs, Heat and Knicks. But those teams can only offer a deal starting at the midlevel exception ($5.8 million), so the Warriors should be able to keep him. Mullin could look to do a sign-and-trade involving Ellis, with the idea of bringing back a star like Heat forward Shawn Marion.

The Warriors also could make a run at free-agent swingman Corey Maggette, and pair him in the backcourt with Ellis. Along with Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington, they would have the nucleus of a decent team. But without a proven playmaker like Davis at the point, it's hard to imagine Golden State getting back to the playoffs next season.

 
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