Posts Tagged ‘Baron Davis’

Should the Cavs amnesty Baron Davis? (part 2)

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

(Gotta love hipster Baron.  Is Billy Hunter asleep???)

Note: I’m actually 100% in support of keeping Baron Davis.  In the article below I am simply playing devil’s advocate.  I actually managed to briefly convince myself, while writing this, that amnestying him was a good idea.  I’ve come back to earth.  Anyway, the point is, take this for what it is – an argument for argument’s sake.

As Kevin said yesterday, the NBA has, in the new CBA, agreed on a clause allowing every team to amnesty one player.  This means that the team can wipe that player’s salary away from their cap.  The team will continue to pay that player’s salary (minus whatever new deal the player receives over the same number of years) but that player’s finances would not count in the salary cap totals.

Again, as Kevin wrote yesterday, there seems to be consensus among NBA pundits that the Cleveland Cavaliers should and will amnesty Baron Davis.  While Kevin makes some good points as to why Cleveland should keep Baron, I think he’s missing some of the real issues here:

First, although Baron is playing nice right now, that is not likely to last for long.  As most NBA fans know, Baron Davis has never been a consistently great locker room guy, particularly on bad, untalented teams.  The Cavs have ZERO chance of making the playoffs this year (and honestly, do we really want them to?  They’re better off with a lottery pick.) and while Baron is saying all the right things right now, the moment the losses start piling up, I doubt he’ll be singing that same song.  When Baron is unhappy, he is a team cancer.  The last thing the Cavs need is dissension in the locker room, particularly with young, moldable minds like Irving and Thompson looking for leadership.

One of the most convincing arguments against amnestying Davis is his potential value next year as a trade asset (expiring contract, sometimes-decent player.)  Unfortunately, I sincerely doubt he’ll be worth much on the open trade market.  Remember, he’ll be 33 next year, will still be making a boatload of dough, and already has some serious reputation issues. The odds that the Cavs could get anything worthwhile in return are minimal, and probably not worth the potentially harmful effects he could have in the locker room.

It’s pretty clear the Cavs plan on starting Irving at PG this season, and behind him sits the always reliable Booby Gibson, as well as the stellar Ramon Sessions.  Where does Baron Davis fit into this equation?  Right now there is a log-jam at the PG position – there aren’t enough minutes to go around – and as a team building for the future, it seems silly to keep playing the 32 year old Davis over young, developing players like Sessions and Irving.

Finally, the Cavs have some GLARING holes to fill right now.  A team with four point guards, four (or five, depending what you consider Harangody) power forwards (Anderson is hardly a true center) and a bunch of mediocre role players does not make for a promising season or future, even with  the young blood the Cavs got in the off season.  Varejao is coming off a major injury, Jamison is aging fast and has his own health problems, and three of the Cavs starters are new to the team and are still very young and unproven.  Considering what the Cavs need (a starting SG, some insurance at center) and what this free agency market has (some decent, young, low priced SGs such as Aaron Afflalo and Nick Young, a lot of depth at the center position) the Cavs should take this as an opportunity to build for the future.  Add in the fact that this NBA draft is top heavy on forwards and light on SGs, and some mild Cavs activity for this FA period seems like a no brainer.

Baron Davis is by no means a terrible player – in his younger days, when he was on, he had the talent to be a legitimately good starter, if not a star.  But I am certain that his personality, combined with the Cavs ineptitude, make this a perfect use for the Amnesty Clause.

Should the Cavs amnesty Baron Davis?

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

The new NBA collective bargaining agreement contains a provision that allows every NBA team to “amnesty” one player’s contract. This would allow the team to waive the player, and the player’s salary would not count towards salary cap or luxury tax thresholds. The team would still need to pay the player, and the player would be a free agent capable of signing with another team.

(Edit: A couple of astute readers have pointed out a mis-understanding of the amnesty provision. If a player is amnestied, then all teams under the salary cap can place a bid on the player. If an under-the-cap team places a high bid to pay Davis $5 million per year, the Cavs are only responsible for the balance of his contract. If no team bids on the player, then he becomes a free agent. Despite that realization, I stand by the rest of the post. Thank you HoopsDogg and Daniel for pointing out my error.)

The consensus among the national NBA media has been that the Cavs will amnesty Baron Davis. Until recently, this has been treated as obvious, a slam dunk…but I don’t agree with making the move. Recent rumors are that the Cavs are also leaning away from it. Given that a team still needs to pay the player, there appear to be two main reasons for amnesty; to avoid the luxury tax, or to free cap space for additional free agents. Neither of these reasons seems to be compelling for the Cavs to drop Davis. The Cavs position as it relates to the luxury tax is solid. The Cavs have 14 players under contract this season for $65 million, while the estimated luxury tax level is $70 million (both numbers are representative of an 82 game season). For 2012 – 2013, the Cavs will have eight players under contract for approximately $45 million (this includes several million for another lottery pick). There is no cause for concern about the luxury tax.

As far as freeing cap space to sign an expensive free agent, there doesn’t seem to be a rationale for doing that. The Cavs have positioned themselves well for a rebuilding project. They just drafted Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson in the high lottery and have seven more first round picks in the next four drafts. Other than Irving and Thompson, only Anderson Varejao has a guaranteed contract beyond 2012 – 2013. Draft picks and flexibility are exactly what a re-building team needs; why would the Cavs add a new long-term free agent piece to the puzzle, before having a chance to evaluate how Irving and Thompson fit? It doesn’t make sense.

This post isn’t focusing on Baron Davis’ basketball talent or his motivation; but when he wants to play, Baron Davis is a really good basketball player. Most reports indicate that Davis has been working very hard this off-season. Why should the Cavs pay him $30 million for the next two years to play for the Heat or Lakers? If Davis plays well this season, his talent combined with his expiring contract could be valuable in a trade next year. If he isn’t motivated and doesn’t play well, the amnesty can still be used next summer. With amnestying next summer, the Cavs would have $30 million in cap space going into 2012 – 2013. Players under contract would be Irving, Thompson, a 2012 lottery pick, Anderson Varejao, Omri Casspi, Ramon Sessions, and Christian Eyenga. Those players with that cap space isn’t a bad re-building base. As a “worst case” non-amnestying scenario; Davis plays for the Cavs for two years, and the Cavs enter 2013 – 2014 with Irving, Thompson, a 2012 lottery pick, a 2013 Cavs first round pick, a 2013 Heat first round pick, Varejao, Casspi, Eyenga, and $30 million to sign free agents. “Worst case” is used lightly; having Baron Davis around for two years while accumulating young talent and maintaining cap flexibility could be the best case scenario. Letting a young core start to define itself prior to attempting to add a high-profile acquisition makes sense; this allows the Cavs to target the appropriate free agents or trades that fit the roster.

Obviously the Cavs’ 2011 -2012 roster is a little nonsensical; it can be argued that the best six players are point guards and power forwards. I’d like to see the Cavs play the following unit for 15 – 18 minutes every game.

• PG – Irving
• SG – Eyenga / Manny Harris
• SF – Casspi
• PF – Thompson
• C – Varejao

The Cavs can see how the young guys play with each other, as these players have the only contracts that extend past 2012 – 2013. This season is as good as any to start figuring out what works and what doesn’t. This is also a reasonable group where Irving can play as the PG in a “traditional” lineup. With Davis & Sessions around, it will be important to give Irving opportunities to lead as undisputed PG. The other 30 minutes a game in 2011- 2012 can be spread amongst a variety of two point guard, two (or three) power forward lineups.

In summary, I see no reason to pay Baron Davis to play basketball for someone else this season. If everyone is healthy; a Cavs team including Davis, Irving, Varejao, Antawn Jamison, etc could be interesting. Keeping Davis now helps maintain flexibility later. Seems like an easy decision to me.