THEY CAN SELL the gorgeous landscapes and the mild weather. They can sell the distinctive cultures, the splendid urban/rural blend.

They can offer more than enough money to take the sting off the cost of living in a place Tyrone Willingham, who has lived in a dozen states, refers to as "God's Country."

What the Warriors have a devil of a time doing, though, is selling their organization to the NBA's most desirable free agents.

It's not that nobody who can make a difference on an NBA team wants to come to the Bay Area. It's that nobody who can make a difference on an NBA team wants to be a Warrior.

That's the enduring curse of the Chris Cohan regime.

Once again it is July — the busiest month on the NBA calendar — and once again the Warriors are finding it exceedingly difficult to overcome their culture of erratic ownership, instability in the front office and capricious coaching. That's the league-wide perception and they do more than enough to foster it.

So once again, they're finding none of the league's better players showing even the slightest bit of interest in coming to our lovely corner of the world.

Coach/emperor Don Nelson, through general manager Larry Riley, has made clear that his No. 1 offseason goal is to acquire a veteran low-block scoring threat — which has been this team's goal since the Civil War. They have identified several, including Phoenix's Amare Stoudemire, who would have to come as part of a trade.


Advertisement

Except Stoudemire, surveying the field, sniffed and said he'd rather not come here.

Meanwhile, stars sprint toward new regions. Hedo Turkoglu dashes into Toronto, Vince Carter floats into Orlando, Richard Jefferson rushes into San Antonio, Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva are galloping into Detroit. Shaquille O'Neal rushes to get to . . . Cleveland.

So, with Stoudemire expressing the feelings of most around the NBA, the Warriors' arduous search begins anew.

Cruising the free-agent market finds little to inspire the fan base. Does your pulse race at the thought of reacquiring the likes of Joe Smith or Donyell Marshall? Didn't think so. But Joe and Donyell, both on the dark side of their careers, are about as good as anybody out there in the dual roles of grabbing rebounds and making shots.

Thus the Warriors only real chance is to make a trade and force someone to come here. In case you have forgotten how that ends, we have a long list of names — beginning with Nick Van Exel, Danny Fortson, Mookie Blaylock and Rony Seikaly — to remind you.

Yet this is bind into which the Warriors have placed themselves. There was, for the briefest of moments, an attempt to shed this ugly tradition. Five years ago this month, new GM Chris Mullin overpaid for Derek Fisher, who was the first "name" free agent to sign up since Mark "Well Past His Prime" Price in 1996. Mullin conceded the Fisher signing was as much about bringing credibility to the franchise as it was about improving the team.

Credibility, however, did not rear its welcome presence until seven months later, when Mullin traded for Baron Davis. Davis eventually led to Nelson's return, which led to the impact trade bringing Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington, which led to consecutive winning seasons for the first time in Cohan's ownership, which began in 1995.

We saw that unravel in true Warriors fashion, from the top down. When Davis opted out last July, the Warriors chased Gilbert Arenas. Familiar with the club from his two seasons here, Gil chuckled, declined and contacted Baron. The Los Angeles buddies, realizing Mullin's juice had been drained, found the overture rather desperate.

The Warriors then turned to Elton Brand, who became a California guy during his seven years with the Clippers. Brand politely declined and went to Philadelphia.

The Warriors wound up overcompensating Corey Maggette and picking up Rony Turiaf after making an offer the Lakers declined to match. A one-dimensional wing and reliable backup big man represent the best of the Cohan-era free agents.

Unless you found something irresistible about Fisher, Price, Speedy Claxton or Cal Cheaney, in which case you should congratulate yourself. You've been influenced by a lifestyle your friends in Cleveland and Detroit only wish they could have.

Enjoy your July, Warriors fans, and remember to keep your expectations low.

Contact Monte Poole at mpoole@bayareanewsgroup.com