OAKLAND — Hey, if you can win playing two point guards at a time, then why not try three?

The ultimate in little ball could be in the Golden State Warriors' future as multiple sources said the team was in serious negotiations with the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday night in an attempt to acquire two-time All-Star Baron Davis.

As the Warriors were struggling to hold off the Atlanta Hawks 101-96 in a battle of NBA lightweights, sources say the club's decision-makers were on the telephone with the Hornets, trying to convince the league's losingest team to cut loose Davis in exchange for Dale Davis' expiring contract and at least one first-round pick.

No deal was struck in the late-night negotiations as the Hornets were said to be hoping to better the Warriors' offer in 11th-hour discussions this morning, perhaps forcing Chris Mullin to up his ante a bit.

The trade deadline is today at noon.

Speedy Claxton, the team's current starter at the point, left the Arena believing there'd have to be more to the deal — or perhaps a second trade — than was being rumored. "All three of us couldn't be here. That would be too much," he said of Davis, himself and Derek Fisher, all point guards. "If they got Baron Davis, they'd have to move either me or Fisher."

Sources indicated the Hornets decided this week to deal Davis, who has missed 36 of 54 games this season due to various ailments, for the best package of expiring contracts and draft picks.

Acquiring Dale Davis, whose $10.1 million salary comes off the books this summer, would allow New Orleans to get close to $10 million under the salary cap, giving the Hornets the potential to be a big-time player in the free-agent market this off-season.

When other teams basically matched the Warriors' bid by offering expiring contracts of their own, sources say Mullin added a first-round pick to the mix during Wednesday's back-and-forth.

Presumably, that pick was not the Warriors' No. 1 this summer, which could be a lottery winner and, worst case, will land high in the lottery. The Warriors also own two future first-rounders from Dallas as a result of the Erick Dampier sign-and-trade, as well as all their own future No.1s.

Acquiring Baron Davis would mean taking on the $57.9 million he's guaranteed through the 2008-09 season.

It would make the decision a tough one, Fisher insisted.

"That's definitely a lot of money," he said, shaking his head. "We have a talented group here. Obviously it would be a lot more talented if we got him."

News of the possible transaction came at an interesting time. Claxton and Fisher started together against the Hawks and contributed significantly to the win, Claxton recording a 12-point/10-assist double-double and Fisher pouring in 20 points, including a game-clinching 18-footer with 9.8 seconds left.

Both guys understood why the Warriors — heck, basically any team — would be interested in Baron Davis.

"When he's healthy, he's an All-Star. How can you not try to acquire an All-Star?" Claxton wondered. "When you've got a shot at an All-Star, you've got to go after him."

Added Fisher, who was playing for the Lakers while Davis was starring across town at UCLA, added, "There's no question a healthy Baron Davis can help any team in the league, no matter who they have on the team already. It would be a lot more crowded (in the Warriors' backcourt). Guys would have to make adjustments."

New Orleans, which has handed its point-guard job to surprising newcomer Dan Dickau, showcased Davis in Wednesday's home loss to Seattle. It was his first appearance since suffering an ankle injury Jan. 16.

Clearly anxious to prove he's ready to start earning his big salary — and hoping to do so for a California team — the former UCLA star fired up nine shots (making two) in just 19 minutes with five assists, three steals, two turnovers and a blocked shot. Trade talks heated between the Warriors and Hornets after his game.

NOTES: Troy Murphy, returning from a 10-game absence because of a fractured left thumb, contributed 20 rebounds to the win, and Jason Richardson had a game-high 31 points. ... To make room for Murphy on the active roster, the Warriors placed point guard Luis Flores on the injured list. ... Former Stanford star Josh Childress had 17 points and 15 rebounds in his only Bay Area appearance of the season.