Baron Davis is on the verge of signing a long-term deal with the Los Angeles Clippers, a day after the point guard shocked the Golden State Warriors by opting out of the final season of his contract to become a free agent.
Though Davis refused to directly confirm an ESPN.com report that he has agreed to sign with Golden State's Pacific Division rivals, he left no doubt about his upcoming move to Southern California.
Davis already was speaking about the Warriors in the past tense Tuesday night before attending the private Bay Area premiere of "Made in America," a documentary he produced about gang life in his native Los Angeles.
"It's tough, but you have to do what's best," said Davis, his usually bushy beard trimmed short. "You have to do what's fair. I'm happy with where I'm going. A big reason is because of the impact and the things that I can do going forward. I knew I could have done them here and created all kinds of good things and positive things in the community, and ultimately, me going home helps me make an impact on young kids."
The 29-year-old Davis, a former UCLA star who has never made a secret of his desire to play in his hometown, averaged 21.8 points, 7.6 assists and 4.7 rebounds while playing in all 82 games last season for the Warriors, who finished with 48 wins _ the best record by a non-playoff team in recent NBA history. A year earlier, Davis was the catalyst for Golden State's trip to the second round of the playoffs, ending a 12-season postseason drought and including a stunning upset of top-seeded Dallas in the first round.
On Monday, Davis surprised the Warriors and most league observers by opting out of the final year of his long-term contract, turning down $17.8 million for next season to become an unrestricted free agent. The Clippers were quick to pounce, offering a long-term deal to the oft-injured, playmaking point guard who helped transform the Warriors' fortunes in just 3 1/2 seasons with the club.
Clippers forward Elton Brand also opted out of his contract on Monday, but Los Angeles is expected to make a strong push to sign the veteran forward. And Brand immediately expressed his desire to stay with the Clippers.
With Davis and Brand, the Clippers would have a talented core _ albeit a middle-aged group by NBA standards, and one with significant injury histories.