Cavaliers trade Mo Williams for Baron Davis

February 24th, 2011 by John Krolik

There are two ways to look at this. One is good, and one is less good.

The Good Way: The Cavs traded cap flexibility and Mo Williams for a lottery pick

The Cavaliers are terrible this year. They will likely be terrible next year as well. The only way the Cavs were going to be able to dig their way out of this hole was to give up their current assets for draft picks, and they did that. Mo Williams is a name, and his spot-up shooting ability makes him attractive to good teams. However, he was exposed this season. He cannot create his own shot consistently, his defense is porous, and he cannot get into the paint.

As bad as Baron Davis may/will be in Cleveland, he will not be significantly worse than Mo Williams was. He will cost the Cavaliers cap flexibility, but we don’t know what that will mean after the new CBA gets done. Also, Gilbert has shown that he is willing to spend money, copious amounts of money, on the team. A buyout or something similar may be in Baron’s future.

The bad news is that the Clippers only traded their pick because they believe, as most do, that this will be a very weak draft. Still, the draft is not an exact science, and it still represents the Cavs’ best chances to find the players that will bring them back to respectability. In order to save this franchise, the Cavs’ scouting staff is going to have to hit two home runs in a draft with few sure-fire prospects. No pressure, guys.

The Less Good Way: The Cavs just traded for Baron Davis

Ramon Sessions’ play at the point was essentially the only good thing the team had going for it. Now Ramon has just lost his starting spot to a low-efficiency chucker whose passing ability and savvy in transition play mean he only works on offense if he is surrounded by talented offensive players. He will not be surrounded by talented offensive players in Cleveland. Baron is still a fast-break virtuoso, but I don’t see that making up for all the quick-trigger threes he’ll almost certainly be firing in Cleveland.

Baron is a guy who doesn’t play well in bad situations, and situations don’t get much worse than the one in Cleveland. And he’ll be taking the starting job of the one guy who was playing his butt off every night (at least offensively) and making the Cavs look like a competent offensive unit. I have watched Baron Davis. I know Baron Davis. I named my first blog after Baron Davis. Based on the last decade or so of Baron Davis’ career, he is exactly the wrong guy to turn Cleveland around. And the Cavaliers now owe Baron Davis just under 42 million dollars over the next three years.

One more thing: The hypocrisy is ridiculous

I understand hating LeBron James. I respect hating LeBron James. I have mixed feelings about this team, at its highest levels, sending an official “screw LeBron James” message, and those feelings are even more mixed now. Yes, LeBron has an ego. Yes, LeBron made it about him rather than about Cleveland when he left. Yes, LeBron could have tried harder when the Cavs were getting blown out in game five. It’s fine to harbor resentment about those things, even though LeBron is the best player in the history of the franchise. I understand tearing down your LeBron posters and putting up posters of guys like Big Z.

What I don’t understand is how burning LeBron James jerseys and buying Baron Davis jerseys is anything other than cheering for laundry. Baron Davis has all the talent in the world, and he has made a CAREER out of putting his ego above the game and quitting on his teams. He shows up to camp out of shape. He launches threes and jogs back on defense instead of running the offense. He does everything he can to keep himself in the spotlight and the bare minimum to keep his teams competitive. And he shot 11-32 in the last two games of the Warriors/Jazz series.

And don’t get me started on Antawn Jamison, who plays offense like a 6-9 Nick Young and doesn’t play defense. You want to call LeBron a quitter? Antawn quits on defense EVERY FEW POSSESSIONS. OF EVERY GAME. And nobody says boo. And Jamison and Davis are now the faces of this new, post-LeBron, pure Cleveland franchise. Sure, the team might suck, but at least it has a moral code: “If you’re going to be selfish and not work that hard, that’s fine. Just don’t prove yourself to be really, really good at anything before you screw up, because then people are really going to hate you. Just be adequate. It’s alright to treat your girl bad, so long as she’s the one you came to the dance with.”

This is not my favorite basketball season of all time. But now the team has hope for the future. And Baron Davis. Until later, campers.

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