I’m told that the Clippers did indeed inquire with the Knicks about power forward Zach Randolph, but it was more of a fact-finding mission and didn’t seem to go anywhere. At least for the time being. Apparently, this happened a few days ago. The plan, right now, is to take a few days and assess the situation, then decide on Plan A, B and C

Falk responds

Elton Brand’s agent David Falk responded to the latest accusations by Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy in an interview with ESPN’s Marc Stein.

“This is what I want to say emphatically: The process was flawed,” Falk said. “The team should not be having two simultaneous negotiations with a player and his agent. But that’s the team’s responsibility, not the player’s. I’m not happy about it, I’m not gloating about it. I regret that the process was flawed, but I don’t take any responsibility that the process was flawed.

“Mike and I have had a good friendship for 20 years. [But] Mike has acknowledged that he and Elton were having a private dialogue, which is illegal and a violation of the collective bargaining agreement for teams to do that when they know he has a registered agent. I wouldn’t expect [Cleveland Cavaliers vice president] Danny Ferry, who’s a former client, or [Denver Nuggets vice president] Rex Chapman, who’s a former client, or [Charlotte Bobcats president] Michael Jordan to be negotiating behind my back. I think it’s unethical.

“Had the process not begun with private discussions between the team and the player that should have never taken place, [Brand would] probably be there today. Had they put [their best] offer on the table initially instead of only when another team forced their hand, I don’t think we’d be having these discussions today. Had they told us they would use their competitive advantage by offering a sixth year that no other team could offer, there could have been a different outcome. That’s the bottom line.

“They had enough cap room to pay Baron [Davis] what they were going to pay him and sign Elton for five years and $82 million or six years and a $100 million. To ask him to come down from $100 million to $70 million or $75 million, it’s patently unrealistic for him to accept that. There isn’t a player [of Brand’s stature] who would accept that.

“Whether Elton said to Mike that I’m happy at X or happy at Y, I’m not disputing that. If Mike says it happened, it happened. But it should have never happened because Mike should have never allowed those discussions to take place.”

For the record, here’s what Dunleavy had to say when I asked him whether he’d gone behind Falk’s back to negotiate with Brand (a la A-Rod and the Yankees last fall).

“I didn’t negotiate with him, I didn’t go behind (Falk’s) back,” Dunleavy said. “It was my player coming to me and making a request of me to go to the owner. And I did it. the owner was receptive to me and I did it.”

Baron’s side of the story

By Ramona Shelburne
Staff Writer

The final versions of how the last few days all went so wrong for the Clippers were still being written Thursday. Coach Mike Dunleavy came armed with text messages from Elton Brand stored in his phone to prove he’d been wronged. Brand’s agent, David Falk, staying true until the end to his version of events.

But at the end of what had turned into a very dark tunnel, there was a bright side for the Clippers. Waiting at the podium, in a crisp black suit, white canvas tennis shoes and a beaming, bright smile was two-time All-Star point guard Baron Davis, who was introduced back to the city that has always been his home at a press conference Thursday afternoon at Staples Center.

In the dream scenario; no, actually just the scenario Davis said Brand had called him with on June 30, after both had opted out of the final year of their contracts (Davis with the Warriors, Brand with the Clippers) Brand would’ve been alongside him on that podium too.

But Davis seemed happy enough to take the stage alone and embrace professionally the city he grew up in and really, has never left.

“For me this was never a money issue, it was about being rich in your heart,” said Davis, who grew up in Compton, prepped at Crossroads High in Santa Monica and went to college at UCLA.

“To come home, and to be in the place where your dream first started, 15 minutes away from where my grandfather (Luke Nicholson) built my first basketball court is a dream come true.”

As for all that other stuff, the competing versions of events, whether or not he and Brand had an “underground handshake” to both sign with the Clippers, Davis said he held no grudge.

“He (Brand) did a great job recruiting me. A great job. He got me here,” Davis said, laughing and with a huge grin on his face. “I’m not giving him like my agent fees or anything though.

“But there was never an underground handshake. We talked about it, yes. But we also talked about going to school together in college. Me and EB have been friends since the 10th grade. No matter what we say to each other, at the end of the day, you have to do what’s going to cement your future and something that you’re going to be comfortable with and that’s what he did.”

When exactly did Davis realize the dream scenario had begun to unravel?

“I had a feeling he was going to go when he stopped texting me and turned his phone off,” Davis said, laughing heartily once again.

At that point, he admitted that the thought did cross his mind that this trip down to L.A. might not be such a good idea after all. A source indicated that Golden State even came back with a counter offer on Wednesday, just to see if it could tempt him to come back.

“But my grandmother raised me to be committed to the things that I say,” he said. “And when I really looked at the opportunity here, I was like, `This is where I need to be.’ ”

The Clippers seemed ecstatic to have him. Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy even called it the most significant free agent signing in club history, though team president Andy Roeser hinted that the club might not be done for the summer yet. Not with $12 million in salary cap space still available and a “blank check” from owner Donald Sterling to “do whatever is necessary” to put a great team together for next season.

“Baron plays every style,” Dunleavy said. “He’s a power point guard. He can push the ball, run the floor, he’s got a great post game. his versatility, his ability, there’s nothing on the court he can’t do.

“For some of our guys, it’ll be the first time they’ve played with a point guard who can really make plays and create easy buckets. ”

It would’ve been nice to pair him with Brand, of course. And it’s clear it’s going to take some of the Clippers brass a little while to get over losing their franchise power forward.

“I honestly don’t understand it,” Dunleavy said. “EB basically said, let’s get BD. So we made that run, we went after it, and Elton led the way with it by calling Baron and recruiting him. We were able to work out a deal and Elton was totally a part of that deal. We all thought it was done.

“There’s a contract that was marked up by David Falk, saying, `make these changes in language, this is what we want and if Baron Davis is good to go, we’re good to go.’ ”

Then, on the night of July 1st, Dunleavy said –and he pulled out his Blackberry with the text message dated at 7:53 p.m. to prove it — Brand sent him a text message asking him to make some changes to the language of that contract.

“I texted him back, and then, in the morning (and again, he showed us the time-stamp, this time 9:32 a.m. to prove it) I wrote him back saying, `I got it all done for you, language and ETO (early termination option). But that was the last I heard from him,” Dunleavy said.

“Then, it all changed and I don’t know the reason for it. David Falk had an incredible influence on him, to poison him in some way against us. We never even got a call to understand there even was a problem, or why there was a problem. … It was uncharacteristic of EB.”

Still, after all that, Dunleavy left the room Thursday smiling. Davis was on board and the Clippers still had $12 million in cap space to work with, and there’s every indication they will spend it.

Wednesday night, the team met with Atlanta forward Josh Smith and his agent Brian Dyke, though no offer was made to the restricted free agent. It’s likely the club will take the weekend to assess its options and decide its next move. After all, no other team has enough cap space to outbid the Clippers at this point.

“While, it’s going to be different than we anticipated, that’s the way it goes in the NBA. You have to adapt and watch, we will,” team president Andy Roeser said.

“The the silver lining is that when Elton opted out, it gave us the cap space we needed to go and get one of the top point guards in the league and that’s what we did with Baron Davis.

“We still have a little more work to do, we’re armed with $12 million in cap space and kind of a blank check commitment from our ownership to do what needs to be done to put the best team out there.”

It’s official

Here’s the release from the Clippers:

The Los Angeles Clippers today solidified their point guard position for years to come with the announced signing of free agent Baron Davis to a multi-year contract. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not announced.

A two-time NBA All-Star (2002 and 2004), Davis averaged 21.8 points (12th in the NBA), 7.6 assists (6th in the NBA), 4.7 rebounds and 2.33 steals (3rd in the NBA) while playing in all 82 games for the Golden State Warriors during the 2007-08 season. Davis was just one of four players in the league last season to average 20+ points and seven+ assists (Allen Iverson, LeBron James, Chris Paul) per game. The 6’3″ guard also tied a career-high in scoring when he poured in 40 points at Chicago on January 18th, in addition to notching three triple-doubles on the season, bringing his career total to nine.

Entering his tenth NBA season, Davis brings career averages of 17.1 points, 7.2 assists, 4.1 rebounds, 1.95 steals and 35.5 minutes per game. He has appeared in 82 games on four occasions during his career and has led his teams to the playoffs in six of his nine NBA campaigns. In 46 career playoff games, Davis has tallied 19.8 points, 6.5 assists and 4.6 rebounds. Most recently, Davis captivated the Bay Area during the 2007 NBA Playoffs, leading the eighth seeded Warriors to a stunning First Round upset of the number one seeded Dallas Mavericks before the Warriors succumbed to the Utah Jazz in the Second Round.

Originally selected by the Charlotte Hornets with the third overall selection in the 1999 NBA Draft, Davis remained the cornerstone of the Hornets franchise until he was traded to Golden State on February 24, 2005. Davis turned in his most productive NBA season in 2003-04 while with New Orleans, when he tallied a career-high 22.9 points (6th in the NBA) to go with 7.5 assists (4th in the NBA) and a career-best 2.36 steals (1st in the NBA) per game and earned All-NBA Third Team honors. He became just the third player (Gary Payton and Michael Adams) since the 1976-77 season to finish in the top-10 in those categories.

The Los Angeles native turned in two stellar seasons at UCLA before making himself eligible for the 1999 NBA Draft. In two seasons as a Bruin, Davis notched career numbers of 13.6 points, 4.4 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game. Davis earned Third-Team All-America honors from the Associated Press after a sophomore season in which he averaged 15.9 points, 5.1 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game. He was also selected as the 1998 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and is a graduate of Crossroads High School in Santa Monica, CA.

A pillar in the Los Angeles community, Davis established TeamPlay, the Baron Davis Foundation in 2004 which inspires underprivileged youth to take their best next step. He also founded and operates another foundation called the Rising Stars of America, through which he conducts basketball camps for at-risk youth in the Los Angeles area. For the past two summers, along with fellow Los Angeles native Paul Pierce, Davis has taken over the reigns of “A Midsummer Night’s Magic”, the annual charity gala and celebrity basketball game started by Magic Johnson more than 20 years ago. Davis received the LA’s Best Alumni Award from Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in 2007 for his contributions to the non-profit’s after school mentoring programs.