(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.