Not many teams have had much sympathy for the Cleveland Cavaliers this season. After a couple seasons of racking up the NBA’s best record and players dancing on the bench as the team executed blow out after blow out, teams were licking their chops this year to exact some revenge on the LeBron-less Cavaliers.
When it comes to the Los Angeles Clippers, though, they seemed to be feeling quite charitable towards our beloved Cavaliers. First, they were kind enough to give the Cavaliers the win to snap the infamous losing streak. Now, it appears they have decided to give the Cavaliers a 2011 top-10 draft pick.
The move comes as somewhat of a surprise, as many of us were bracing ourselves for the Cavaliers to stand pat and not make any moves. As is often the case with the Cavaliers, though, moves come out of nowhere when you least expect them.
And so it is that the Cavaliers are set to trade Mo Williams and Jamario Moon to the Clippers in exchange for Baron Davis and their 2011 first-round pick, which at the moment would be the #8 pick overall based solely on current record.
Before we break down this deal, though, allow to me get sentimental first. Above all else, I am first and foremost a fan. I am a fan of the NBA. I am a fan of the Cleveland Cavaliers. And I am a fan of Mo Williams. Mo was brought here to do a job, and although he never quite lived up to the #2 he was asked to be, perhaps it was asking too much of a player with his skill level. Regardless, the man never complained about anything and he never made excuses for his postseason shortcomings. He may not have succeeded in the playoffs, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort.
Mo came to be one of my favorite Cavaliers of all time, not just for his play on the court, but for the person he is off the court as well. He was a major part of the most successful Cavs teams of all time, and I’ll never forget that. I wish both Mo and Jamario the absolute best and I hope they find success in LA…..starting next season.
Which leads to this trade. If you are a Cavs fan, today is a good day. We’ll see how much better or worse Baron Davis is than Mo Williams was, but to me, that part is more or less a wash. The key is the draft pick the Cavaliers acquired.
Some may scoff and point out this is a weak draft class, and sure, if there’s a lock out, the talent pool will be even worse off. Regardless, any time you have a chance to have 2 top ten picks in the draft, you have to like your position. It gives the Cavaliers options.
The skeptics and cynics may see this as the Cavaliers now having two chances to make bad picks, but in reality, the Cavaliers are looking at two chances in the lottery, two opportunities to add some much needed young talent. If the Cavaliers miss on one of the picks, you hope the other one pans out, but should they hit on both picks, then the Cavaliers took a major step in their rebuilding plan.
I’ve not yet seen if the Clippers protected the pick at all. I would think the Clippers would have asked for the pick to be protected if they win the lottery. If it’s not #1 protected, though, then the Cavaliers also have two chances now to win the Kyrie Irving lottery.
While the Cavaliers do now have 2 serviceable PGs in Baron Davis and Ramon Sessions, I don’t believe this should stop the Cavaliers from targeting Irving in this draft. Baron Davis is not going to be a part of the future of this franchise, and the Cavaliers will have some options for dealing with him. For now, should the Cavaliers be so fortunate as to get the top pick and land Kyrie Irving, they will still have another pick to address another need with young talent.
As for Baron Davis, we’ll see how this works out. Davis is on the books now for $13,900,000 next season and then has an Early Termination Option the following season. Should he not opt out, the Cavaliers would owe him $14,750,000 in the 2012-13 season, at which point he would be an enormous expiring contract that the Cavaliers could look to trade.
Should Davis become any kind of distraction or malcontent in Cleveland, the Cavaliers could always try to offer him a buyout. But if anyone is concerned about the Cavaliers using up cap flexibility on Davis, I don’t think you should be.
The Cavaliers were never going to build through free agency. The team was unable to attract free agents even with LeBron James on the team, so it would seem unlikely that they would ever make a splash with any cap space now. This team was always going to have to rebuild through the draft, and Dan Gilbert has now shown a willingness to take on large contracts and spend money in order to acquire draft picks that will lead to the future of this franchise.
And who knows, maybe Byron Scott and Baron Davis really do have a good relationship now and maybe Baron will play up to his level in Cleveland. If that should happen, then the Cavaliers will have vastly improved their offense over the next couple years.
I don’t see how this is a bad move for the Cavaliers in any way. They were never going to get more than a top 10 pick for Mo Williams, so credit to Chris Grant and crew for making this happen and getting it done. I think prior to this season, if anyone would told us the Cavaliers were going to get Baron Davis and a potential top 10 pick in the draft for Mo Williams, we would have found that hard to believe (although, it is the Clippers, so, you never know).
We’ll see if Chris Grant has anymore tricks up his sleeve today as we hit the trade deadline, but should this be the only move the Cavaliers make, then it’s hard to see this transaction as anything but a major positive for the Cavaliers and the rebuilding process.
Photo Credit: (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)