boston.com Sports Sportsin partnership with NESN your connection to The Boston Globe
Basketball notes

He's dialed in on extension

Davis wants Warriors to make an early call

Baron Davis looks as slim as he's ever looked. "Just getting ready for training camp," he said. "It's the lightest I've ever been - under 213 - in a long time. I ain't been like that since my rookie year. I'm feeling good."

While lighter around the waist, the Golden State Warriors catalyst would like to be heavier in the wallet - and sooner rather than later. He technically has two years left on his contract, but he has a termination option for the 2008-09 season. He said he wants the matter cleared up before the start of training camp or else he plans to enter free agency next summer.

"There hasn't been too much talking. But in the next two weeks, I'm going to make a decision if I will re-sign or play the season out and be a free agent," he said.

"I know where I want to be. I know what I want to do. You just have to see if the team that you're playing for wants you the most. Hopefully, we'll find out that soon."

Through a spokesman, Golden State basketball boss Chris Mullin declined to comment.

This could all be posturing, of course, for Davis would be forfeiting a considerable chunk of change ($17.81 million) by opting out of his contract. This is not unlike the situation the Celtics faced last summer with Paul Pierce; they ended up giving him a max extension. One has to assume the Warriors are not so inclined, or something would have been done by now. Golden State is understandably concerned about Davis's durability; he has missed 47 games over the last two seasons with the Warriors and 130 over the last five with Golden State and the Hornets.

But Davis, who turned 28 last month, was indisputably the key player for the Warriors last season as they ended more than a decade of playoff drought - and then proceeded to shock the top-seeded Mavericks in the first round. Davis averaged 20.1 points and 8.1 assists in his first season under Don Nelson, who predicted Davis would have an All-Star year in his system. The playoffs were even better: 25.3 points a game.

Nelson is coming back and, at least for this season, will have Davis back as his starting point guard. And Davis sounds like he wants to remain where he is. He's a California kid at heart, growing up in South Central Los Angeles, attending high school in Santa Monica, and then spending two years at UCLA.

"I'm very happy there," he said. "That's the place I want to be. I feel like I'm starting something new and I want to finish on a great note. What better place to do it than a place that hasn't had that kind of recognition and that was in the dumps for years and years? And now we have something that everyone wants to be a part of.

"For me, it's taking a team I've been with and struggled with for the last 2 1/2 years and we've been able to turn it around. We just have to see how much they trust me and want me."

The Warriors were, indeed, a tremendous story last season. Following a 1-point loss to Washington on March 4, the Warriors stood at 26-35. They beat the Pistons the next night in Auburn Hills, Mich., and proceeded to win 16 of their final 21 games (nine of their last 10) to claim the No. 8 spot with a 42-40 record. Not only did they beat Dallas, they could have given Utah more of a struggle had they made free throws in an overtime loss in Game 2.

But things have changed. The Warriors traded Jason Richardson to Charlotte for rookie Brandon Wright, which still has Davis shaking his head.

"It's going to be hard going forward where we're losing 20 points a game," Davis said. (Gee, he didn't seem nearly as upset that Adonal Foyle was released. Golden State has also said good-bye to Sarunas Jasikevicius, who was almost as unimportant as Foyle.)

"We have to wait and see," Davis said. "You have to trust management that they know what they're doing and go out and compete.

"We got our work cut out for us. It's not like it's going to be easier, it's going to be a lot harder. We have to focus on being together as a team. A lot of growth and maturity is going to have to take place early because we have a tough schedule."

They do indeed. There's a five-game Eastern swing in November, with a stop in Boston on the 21st. The first five home games are against Utah, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, and the Clippers. They won't be weighed down during the exhibition season; they play only seven games, and one of those is against an international team (Zalgiris Kaunas of Lithuania).

Long before then, Davis's self-imposed deadline will have passed. He'll either be the beneficiary of a contract extension or, if he's true to his word, be playing his final season for the Warriors.

He's in favor of lifting wait

Sonny Vaccaro at Harvard? At Yale? You can pretty much assume the longtime sneaker czar wasn't there to see any of the kids from his camps or all-star games. They don't end up in Cambridge or New Haven.

Actually, Vaccaro was at Harvard Law School last Wednesday night to speak and, true to form, he held nothing back. While he still reserves his greatest antipathy for the NCAA, he also took the NBA to task for the recently implemented rule that prohibits kids from going directly to the NBA out of high school. He sees it as a flat-out restriction on one's ability to make a living.

But, he added, "It's not the age limit that bothers me. Make it whatever age you want. It's the one-and-done."

The NBA and the players union agreed in the last collective bargaining agreement to have a minimum age of 19 and to have a US high schooler wait at least one year before going into the NBA. All that did was prevent Greg Oden, Kevin Durant, and others from getting drafted in 2006. Those two, and six other college freshmen, were first-round picks in 2007. And more will come in 2008.

But, Vaccaro asks, what about the kids in Europe? How is it that Petteri Koponen of Finland can be 19 and be drafted in 2007 (by Portland in the first round) while Southern Cal's O.J. Mayo, who turns 20 in November, can't be drafted until 2008?

"It should be the same for everyone," he said.

Vaccaro delighted in reminding his listeners that it is two high school-to-NBA guys now leading the Olympic team (Kobe Bryant and LeBron James) and that Carmelo Anthony, a third Olympian, was on a "one-year lend-lease to Syracuse."

Vaccaro's life is being made into a movie, with "Sopranos" star James Gandolfini playing the lead.

After torching, French will miss Olympics

There had to be plenty of cries of sacre bleu and quelle horreur following France's stunning play in the European Championships. (Actually, the French papers said a lot worse than that, calling France's eight-place finish "a catastrophe.")

Russia was the surprise winner of the tournament and, with Lithuania, earned a berth in the Olympics. Host Spain, which finished second, already had qualified. Greece, Croatia, Germany, and Slovenia earned the four spots in next summer's final 12-team Olympic qualifier, out of which three teams will earn berths in Beijing.

France's play was especially revealing, given that Tony Parker, Ronny Turiaf, and Boris Diaw were on the team. (Restricted free agent Mickael Pietrus, however, was not.) Diaw came under attack in the French press (he was called an "enormous disappointment" and was deemed to be "in free fall") for going scoreless and fouling out in 25 minutes against Slovenia (had France won that game, it would have earned a spot in next summer's qualifier) and for boinging two free throws with 15 seconds left against Russia in the quarterfinals, a 4-point loss.

The coach of the national team is expected to lose his job. Whoever replaces him won't have Frederic Weis anymore, not that he is such a big loss given Weis's numbers in the European Championships. The onetime Knicks first-round pick (1999), a 7-foot-1-inch center, averaged just 2 points and 3.9 rebounds while playing a scant 14.7 minutes.

Particularly revolting: In the critical losses to Croatia and Slovenia, Weis totaled 18 minutes, 4 rebounds, and 0 points. He is said to be retiring.

France, the silver medalist in Sydney (where Vince Carter catapulted over Weis for a famous dunk) and Italy, the silver medalist in Athens, will not be in Beijing.

Etc.

Clipped wings
Tough to be a Clippers fan these days. Two of the team's most pivotal and promising players, Elton Brand and Shaun Livingston, are down with serious injuries and neither is expected back until midseason at the earliest. Livingston blew out his left knee last February. He's still in rehab and hasn't started serious running yet. Brand tore his left Achilles' tendon Aug. 3 working out and just this past week had the hard cast removed. Livingston, in town last week for a Reebok event, participated in a softball game and played a safe second base. Asked about Brand, he said, "It was tough, seeing him go down and, with me down, it's really tough. We were both starters last season. He was our main go-to guy. We have to bond as a team and come together even stronger because our top guy has gone down for at least half a season, maybe more. Last year, we had guys who didn't perform to their max potential or to their highest level. But we still have a legitimate squad, a good, solid group of guys, and they have to hold the fort until Elton gets back."

Untangling the Web
Who says Bob Johnson is, um, frugal? You won't hear that from Barbara Roe, owner of Bitterroot Bobcat and Lynx in Stevensville, Mont. Roe, who breeds bobcats, told the Charlotte Observer last week that the NBA Bobcats paid her around $50,000 for the rights to her website, www.bobcats.com. Before that, if you wanted information on the NBA team, and you went to www.bobcats.com, you got a lot of information about bobcats. For basketball, you had to go to www.bobcatsbasketball.com. It led to some confusion, such as when Roe started getting season-ticket requests in 2004, the first year the Bobcats played in the NBA. Roe told the newspaper that the Bobcats first offered her $1,000 for the rights, but she held firm.

Really big shoe
Yao Ming will be fined for missing the first two days of Rockets training camp and, even worse, Media Day, to remain in China for the opening of the Special Olympics. That's not something the Rockets want, but Yao gets pulled in many, many directions in China, where he is understandably adored. This Tuesday, Yao is scheduled to appear at a news conference to unveil the sneaker he will wear at this year's All-Star Game. (Reebok, the shoe company, is going out on a limb and assuming Yao will make the Western Conference team.) The sneaker has a dragon on it, and there will be a very limited release in China (some 2,000 pairs) for purchase. Additionally, plans are complete for a special shoe Yao will wear at the Olympics next summer. There will be 2008 pairs of those sold, with Yao getting the 13th. He wears No. 13 for China.

Divac gets a big assist
Celtic Scot Pollard was among a handful of NBA veterans who journeyed to the Balkans for this weekend's "You Can Too" initiative, run by 16-year veteran NBA center Vlade Divac. The weekend event in Serbia was held to raise money to restore homes in Serbia and Africa as well as to celebrate what has been known for a while - that Divac is calling it quits. (His last NBA season was 2004-05, when he appeared in 15 games with the Lakers.) Today, Divac is scheduled to open the Vlade Divac Museum in Prijepolje, where his basketball career began as a 12-year-old. Pollard, a teammate of Divac's for five seasons in Sacramento, was joined by a few of Divac's other former teammates from the NBA and the national team, such as Chris Webber, Bobby Jackson, Toni Kukoc, Dino Radja, and Peja Stojakovic.

Play ball
Note to Denver coach George Karl: Allen Iverson looks fit, fine, and ready to go. Iverson showed up last Wednesday for a Reebok event in Stoughton, and those in attendance got a chance to see what the Nuggets have not seen since the end of the season: AI in the flesh. Iverson accepted an award from the shoe/apparel company and later in the day played softball in a game featuring NBA players against the media. (The players won. Duh.) Later, Iverson and Baron Davis hung around and shot baskets with company employees and locals until well into the evening.

Peter May can be reached at p_may@globe.com; material from personal interviews, wire services, other beat writers, and league and team sources was used in this report.

More from Boston.com

SEARCH THE ARCHIVES