As the year comes to a close, like we have done the last three years, WFNY will take a look at what we view to be the 10 biggest sports stories affecting our local sports scene. Each day through the rest of the year, we will be counting down from 10 to one. We started with #10 – The Colt Concussion, yesterday was #9 -Key Cavalier Wins, and today we keep that basketball theme going.
#8 – The Baron Comes to Cleveland
On February 24th, the Cavs were mired in last place, with a banged up team that had endured a NBA record 26 game losing streak. Things were extremely bleak in the first year of the post-LeBron James era. What did the Cavs have going that was going to entice anyone to come out and watch this team? That’s when GM Chris Grant made a move that nobody saw coming.
It was the NBA trade deadline and the Cavs were looking like sellers, rather than buyers. But the right deal came along that could help the Wine and Gold long term, and they jumped at it.
Uber-talented and sometimes malcontented PG Baron Davis and his bloated contract with two and a half years remaining was brought over from his hometown Los Angeles Clippers, along with an unprotected first round pick for PG Mo Williams, also carrying a bad contract, and SF Jamario Moon, a free agent at season’s end.
The day of the trade, one of our “NBA guys,” Andrew, broke it down for us:
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.
What Andrew said was spot on. This pick, which turned out to be unprotected, gave the Cavs two chances to land PG Kyrie Irving with the #1 pick. And guess who’s pick turned out to be the one that the Cavs won the lottery with? The Clippers. I mean., of course this was going to happen with the Clippers pick. It was karma slapping owner Donald Sterling right in the face.
Davis arrived in Cleveland and many thought this was like a death sentence to him. He had two and a half years left on his deal and was going to be “wasting” some good years floundering at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with the Cavs in full rebuilding mode. Instead, Baron was a model citizen and teammate, loved by the local media and in the locker room. He had the right attitude from day one and never wavered. His past history with Byron Scott may have had something to do with that.
It was well documented the problems that the two of them had back in their days in New Orleans. But the two ironed out their differences and became close again, brining the best out of each other. As Scott said yesterday, Davis was the key figure in some of the biggest and most memorable Cavs wins of last season, including the coup de gra, the 102-90 beat down of LeBron James and the Heat at the Q on March 29th, which Cavs fans will never forget.
Baron played to the crowd that night, and the Q faithful ate it up and appreciated it.
He ended the season excited to come back, but with a lot of uncertainty around his return. We would later learn that the one-time Amnesty Clause of the new NBA CBA would be the chance for the Cavs to let Baron go without having any salary cap consequences, thus allowing the veteran to latch on with a contending team. The Cavs got what they wanted, Davis, now a New York Knick, got what he wanted.
On his way out, Davis tweeted thanks to the many fans he won over in Cleveland:
I’m going to miss cleveland fans and the organization! When I was down and out you believed in me and embraced me!I will always be a cav!
Best thing about my time in cleveland was the opportunity to build a lasting friendship with Coach Scott! I have the utmost respect for him!