Baron Davis has his eyes on the Clippers, Gilbert Arenas likely is staying in Washington, and Elton Brand has a decision to make as NBA free agency opened with some surprises Tuesday.
The dominoes began to tumble when Davis surprised the Warriors by walking away from his $17.8 million contract for 2008-09 and becoming an unrestricted free agent.
Davis would like to return to his native Los Angeles and sign with the Clippers, who were willing to wait Davis out and get him at a lower price once he struck out with other teams, a person familiar with the situation told Newsday. But Davis' agent, Todd Ramasar, told the Los Angeles Times last night that the team had a verbal agreement in place. No deals can be finalized until the free-agent negotiating period ends July 9.
Anticipating a protracted negotiating process, Davis initially left the door open to re-signing with Golden State. But the Warriors responded quickly to Davis' opt-out, making a five-year offer to Arenas that is expected to be worth more than $100 million.
The Wizards stepped up with the maximum they could offer Arenas _ a six-year deal worth about $126 million _ and sent word through owner Abe Pollin that the team won't let him get away. Along with the offer came a plea from the team that Arenas consider taking less than a maximum deal to allow GM Ernie Grunfeld the flexibility to surround him with enough talent to contend for a championship.
The Wizards took one step in that direction Tuesday, agreeing with forward Antawn Jamison _ an Arenas favorite _ on a four-year, $50 million extension. He is likely to re-sign with the Wizards, a person with knowledge of the situation said.
It's simply a question of price.
Davis' flirtation with the Clippers laid the foundation for Brand to re-sign with L.A. after joining Corey Maggette in opting out. The Clippers signing of Davis would result in their renouncing rights to Maggette, according to a source.
Brand opted out with the intention of providing the Clippers with enough cap space to sign a high-profile running mate for him. Davis certainly would qualify. But Miami is believed to be preparing a sign-and-trade offer for Brand, recognizing the need to supplement No. 2 overall pick Michael Beasley to appease superstar Dwyane Wade, who can become an unrestricted free agent in 2010.
In other developments on Day 1 of the NBA free-agent negotiating period:
The Hornets and Chris Paul agreed in principle on a multi-year extension that would add 3-5 years to the one year Paul has remaining. The deal would be for the maximum of $60-$80 million.
Ron Artest decided not to opt out of his contract with the Kings, but is having second thoughts about it after seeing Davis, Arenas, and Brand poised to score huge paydays. Artest doesn't see his long-term future in Sacramento, which makes him an obvious trade pawn.
The Trail Blazers agreed to terms with Spanish guard Rudy Fernandez, acquired in a 2007 draft day trade with Phoenix.
The Grizzlies finalized terms with Marc Gasol, who verbally had agreed to leave Spain and play for the team that acquired his rights in the February trade with the Lakers for his brother, Pau.
The Spurs' Brent Barry opted out of his contract and became an unrestricted free agent.
None of the deals will be official until the negotiating period ends July 9.