So how’s this for a shocker. Over night the Cavaliers pulled of their “major trade” and in fact, did acquire an upper level point guard from the state of California. As it turns out it wasn’t Golden State Warrior Monta Ellis as everyone had hoped. Instead the Cavaliers acquired Clippers point guard Baron Davis. This move appears to be a bit puzzling until you take a look at just what exactly happened and think about the trade from a logical perspective.
First, the facts. This was a straight salary dump for the Clippers. Davis signed a massive contract with them three years ago and needless to say it hasn’t worked out well. He’s repeatedly come into camp out of shape, helped lead them to the #1 pick in the draft (Blake Griffin) and regularly underperformed. Quite simply, he wasn’t the same player they thought they were acquiring from Golden State. They had been looking to get rid of him for some time now, especially with the emergence of rookie Eric Bledsoe as a reliable and cheaper alternative for the future. That’s why along with acquiring Davis, the Cavaliers also acquired the Clippers 2011 first round draft pick. Yes, Davis is seen as the headline of this deal, but don’t be fooled. The deal was made in order to secure what could potentially be another top ten draft pick.
To get Davis and the draft pick the Cavs were forced to part ways with both Mo Williams and Jamario Moon. Moon has an expiring contract and the remaining years on Williams deal are more favorable to a team financially than the years remaining on Davis’s. For Mo it’s a fresh start. A chance to show that he didn’t completely die on the inside as a basketball player when Lebron left. Maybe Blake Griffin can be the one to bust him out of his year long funk. Moon on the other hand will simply play out the remainder of this year and then look to sign on somewhere next year for what will probably be too much money. Owners are dumb like that.
This trade does raise some serious questions about the direction the Cavs are heading and who they plan to draft. Do they commit to Davis as their point guard and pass on Kyrie Irving in the draft and instead draft Jared Sullinger, Derrek Williams, or Perry Jones with their first pick? What about that second first round pick? Right now the ESPN.com lottery machine mock draft predicts the Clippers falling somewhere in the range of the 7-9 pick and, based on their rankings, taking Harrison Barnes, Enes Kanter, or Jonas Valanclunas. This is setting up to potentially be a really solid draft for the Cavaliers now that they have a second pick. There may not be a solid star impact player but if you can acquire two players that have that potential or are just below that tier how can you not be excited?
The kicker in all of this is the fact that the Cavaliers didn’t have to use their $14 million dollar trade exception from the Lebron James sign and trade. That means they may not be done wheeling and dealing. The talks of acquiring Gerald Wallace using that exception drove me mad yesterday. Now I’m starting to think it’s not a bad idea. Think about it. Baron Davis, Gerald Wallace, and two of the top ten picks in this year’s draft? All of the sudden the Cavaliers have a solid core with some legitimate talent. Amazing how quickly things can change. That’s definitely a group that could make it to the playoffs over the course of the next few years and may even be tempting enough to lure free agents. They could also acquire Wallace and Davis and then flip them for draft picks in successive years, respectively as each will have an expiring contract. Now you’re looking at two top ten’s this year, our picks in each of the next two years following, and then any additional picks they may be able to acquire in those deals. I think there’s a plan in place.
Regardless of how you feel about the move and the acquisition of Baron Davis, the draft pick they acquired is the key to everything. The draft is how the Cavaliers will build their next contender. It’s the exact same model that was employed by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Look how well it’s turned out for them. Cleveland will never be the attractive free agent destination that Miami, New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago are. The Cavs will need to win big in the draft and acquiring as many picks as possible will improve their odds. So stay tuned. The next few hours leading up to the trading deadline will be entertaining if you are a Cavs fan.