When the Carmelo Anthony swap finally happened, I was relieved. When the Deron Williams mortar shell of a trade was lobbed onto us with no warning, I was as shocked as Deron was when HE found out from watching TV. But this? THIS is mind boggling; I wake up to find that the Clippers are shipping surly-vet-turned-ebullient-teacher Baron Davis out for Mo Williams and small forward Jamario Moon of the floundering Cleveland Cavaliers. On the surface, this might look like another hare-brained move by a front office well known for it’s history of questionable decisions. Baron Davis was playing some of the best basketball of his career, displaying the leadership reminiscent of his brilliant play with the 2007 Golden State Warriors; he wasn’t forcing shots, he was setting up and teaching the youngsters, he was producing in key spots, and he seemed to be building a genuine rapport with powerhouse rookie Blake Griffin. As much grief that is heaped upon Clippers’ GM Neil Olshey, and as much venom is directed (for great reasons) at Clips’ owner Donald Sterling, I have to stand and begin a slow clap for this trade, because, feelings aside, it’s a great move for the Clippers.
Baron Davis is 31. As well as he’s played recently, he’s averaging 13 and 7 and shooting below 30% from deep. No one can forget how the Clip Show’s 1-13 start to season coincided with Davis showing up to camp looking like Baloo the Bear, out of shape and unhappy. No one should forget his selfish play from last year, when he gunned with no conscious and seemed more interested in his production company and grooming his beard than being the front-man the team needed so desperately. As well as he’s played of late, his productivity hasn’t translated to Ws; LA is only 2-9 in it’s last ll (to be fair, that’s all on Eric Gordon and Chris Kaman missing so much time to injury, not Baron’s game). By moving Baron for the younger (28), better shooting Williams (13 ppg and 7 apg during this injury riddled season, a career 38.5% 3 pt shooter, ’09 All Star) and the athletic defensive minded Moon (4.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg) upgrades the team at both spots, providing a shooter with range at PG and more depth behind streaky Ryan Gomes and suddenly clueless rook Al-Farouq Aminu. Williams has been slowed by a hip injury, but look for him to round into his 2010 form (16.7 ppg, 5.1 apg, 43% from deep) and, along with Eric Gordon, provide a potent back-court attack. Not to be overlooked is the savings; past this season, Baron is owed 28 mil over the next 2; Moon’s 3 mil is an expiring contract, and Williams has two 8.5 mil player options remaining on his. For a team that has some hefty contracts to hand out over the next few years as it’s young players approach free agency, every bit helps.
If this was one of Baron Davis’ Hollywood scripts, Gordon would have returned from injury, and a complete starting 5 of Davis, Gordon, Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Gomes, with Eric Bledsoe, Kaman and Aminu providing punch with the 2nd unit, would have led a rollicking romp to playoff push, it’d all come down to the last game against the sneering goons from Rich City, and Baron, playing on a sprained ankle, would provide the game winning slow motion alley-oop to Blake to win the game. But this isn’t all Hollywood magic; this is, in the standard cliche’-speak, “a business”, and in both business AND basketball sense, the Clippers made a shrewd play.
What do YOU think of the trade? Leave a comment! Or hit me on Twitter, @SnottieDrippen