After Wednesday's deadline passed without extended deals for centers Andris Biedrins and Patrick O'Bryant, the underlying theme of the Warriors' season became even clearer.
Just about everyone on Golden State's roster is playing for a new contract this season, and how they perform individually and collectively will determine where the suddenly money-conscious Warriors go from here.
"It could be flexibility or options, or like you said, a risk," Warriors vice president Chris Mullin told the San Fancisco Chronicle of the instability Thursday. "Depends on how your outlook is. I feel great. To me it's options, things to look forward to, because a lot of guys we have, we feel really good about."
By holding firm on every negotiation he's handled in the last five months, Mullin essentially set himself up to be the busiest of any NBA executive next summer.
Aside from the Warriors' rookies, only two players, Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington, are guaranteed to be back. Everyone else, including Baron Davis, Monta Ellis, Matt Barnes, Mickael Pietrus, Kelenna Azubuike and Biedrins, has a contract that expires or can be terminated at the end of the season. ...
Bulls general manager John Paxson did his best on Thursday to calm squash the trade rumors that had Lakers start Kobe Bryant headed for Chicago.
That leaves the question, of course, as to where Bryant will wind up.
"There's not a deal done," said Paxon Thursday. "There's not going to be a deal done. All the things that were out there were really unfair to all of us who were trying to do our jobs. The misinformation ... I think gets in the way of the process. It's just such a complicated thing, and we kind of put it to rest now."
Paxson said they discussed "parameters," but the sides "never got down to the nuts and bolts of it because there was never a deal to be done."
"That's the reality of it," he said. "People can make what they want of it, but what I know is that part of it is over with."
Paxson's comments came a day after a flurry of rumors. Speculation picked up Wednesday, with one report saying the Bulls, Sacramento Kings and Lakers were discussing a three-way deal that would bring the superstar to Chicago.
That scenario had Paxson sending Ben Gordon and a signed-and-traded P.J. Brown to Sacramento, with Chicago's Ben Wallace and the Kings' Ron Artest heading to Los Angeles. Paxson dismissed the rumor, saying a deal involving Brown would send the Bulls over the luxury tax threshold something they're reluctant to do.
Bryant, speaking before news of Paxson's comments reached the Lakers' El Segundo, Calif., practice facility, said he is monitoring the rumors "just to keep tabs on how my teammates are reacting to it." ...
According to the Charlotte Observer, the Bobcats say they want center-forward Emeka Okafor for the long haul. Okafor says he wants to stay here. But that mutual desire wasn't sufficient to complete a long-term agreement before Wednesday's NBA deadline.
Okafor will be a restricted free agent come July, but he says that's not the first step toward a departure from the team that drafted him in 2004.
"I plan to be here I love the city, I love the team, I love the staff. It's just a matter of time for things to work out," he told the Observer prior to the opener against Milwaukee. "The Bobcats were fair and reasonable, but I've always been a goal-driven person. I've always had high expectations for the team and myself. I want to attain that. That's just the way basketball is sometimes."
While the Bobcats' contract offer was attractive, it wasn't sufficient for Okafor to accept. A source familiar with the discussions confirmed the Bobcats offered nearly $13 million a season, which would have made Okafor the highest-paid player in team history. The source said Okafor wanted something approaching the five-year, $85 million maximum contract Dwight Howard signed with the Orlando Magic in July. ...
Veteran forward Juwan Howard had his pick of teams: Cavaliers, Bulls, Celtics, Heat and Mavericks.
The Chicago native chose a return to the Mavs for his 14th season, he said, for two reasons: coach Avery Johnson and a deep, experienced roster he believes is primed for a championship run.
"It's been proven over and over again in this league that veterans help you win games," the 6-foot-9 power forward who played last season with the Houston Rockets told the Fort Wort Star-Telegram. "Veterans are the ones who help you win championships. I'm here to add some veteran leadership, bring a workmanlike attitude in practice and in games, play hard and help the team in any fashion I can."