OAKLAND — Callers waiting to leave voicemail for Golden State Warriors executive vice president Chris Mullin are serenaded by the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want."
Never has that been more true for Golden State point guard Baron Davis.
After weeks of informal conversations, Davis' agent, Todd Ramasar, met with Warriors officials Thursday to discuss a potential contract extension for his client. But the talks failed to provide any satisfaction for Davis, a two-time All-Star who just turned 29.
In fact, the sides were so far apart in what they perceive as Davis' worth that Ramasar brought up the specter of Davis using his opt-out clause to void the final year on his current deal and become an unrestricted free agent July 1.
"After sitting down with the Warriors organization (Thursday) regarding Baron's future, I don't know what direction the Warriors are going," Ramasar told the Times. "Baron is adamant about remaining a Warrior, but based on my conversations with the team (Thursday), we have to consider all of his options."
A source close to Davis said it's now a 50-50 chance that the Warriors' captain, coming off a season in which he averaged 21.8 points, 7.6 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game, will not remain beyond next season after various contract offers that were so low as to be practically hurtful.
Davis is slated to make $17.8 million next season, the final installment of a six-year, $84-million contract extension he signed with the New Orleans Hornets.
That deal gave him the maximum allowable salary under the league's collective-bargaining agreement. Davis is willing to give the Warriors a discount and drop down from "max player" status to help Golden State add more talent, but there is a clear difference of opinion in his market value.
Some comparables to Davis in terms of veteran point guards would include Phoenix's Steve Nash (who is playing on a six-year, $63 million deal), Detroit's Chauncey Billups (five years, $60 million), Washington's Gilbert Arenas (six years, $65 million) and Dallas' Jason Kidd (six years, $103 million).
The source said that the Warriors' proposals to Davis were "significantly below" that market value, although it's not clear if the team is going low on its average salary per season or offering higher base pay over a shorter time frame.
That the sides would be at an impasse is not wholly unexpected. Although Davis said after the season finale on April 16 that he wanted to stay with Golden State, he did allow that, "I'm just waiting on the Warriors, to see if they want me here long term or not."
Just hours earlier, Mullin said that he did not plan to engage in contract talks until Davis' opt-out deadline of June 30 had passed, putting the team in a more advantageous position.
Mullin did not return a phone message Friday, and team president Robert Rowell declined to discuss the matter, but the negotiating stance is very much in line with the hard-nosed attitude the Warriors have adopted in recent years with regard to player contracts.
Where previously the team committed more than $100 million over the course of three summers to keep players such as Adonal Foyle, Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy and Jason Richardson from hitting the free agent market, Golden State has become much more careful in its spending.
The Warriors and center Andris Biedrins were far apart in failed discussions about an extension last summer, and the team stood pat with lowball, one-year offers that forwards Matt Barnes and Mickael Pietrus eventually accepted.
If continuing that pattern of fiscal responsibility means keeping Davis in limbo for a while, the team appears willing to make that sacrifice.
But it will give Davis time to reflect on whether he wants to be the centerpiece of an organization where not only the athletes but also the executives are asked to play out their deals: Mullin and coach Don Nelson are working on contracts that expire at the end of the 2008-09 season.
Davis referenced the uncertainty caused by such lingering monetary issues after the season finale.
"This is the first time I've played on a team where more than half the team was free agents and playing for their futures," Davis said. "I think we did a good job, but it would be better next year if we had a solid foundation."