Breaking down the Baron Davis/Mo Williams trade

Los Angeles Clippers guard Baron Davis scores past Miami Heat center Zydrunas Ilgauskas and forward Chris Bosh in fourth quarter action in Los Angeles on January 12, 2011. The Clippers defeated the Heat 111-105. UPI/Jon SooHoo

The Los Angeles Clippers just pulled off the unthinkable: they managed to trade away Baron Davis’s untradeable contract. But it cost them a lottery pick.

Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer has the details.

An NBA source has confirmed to the Plain Dealer that the Cavaliers are about to send guard Mo Williams and forward Jamario Moon to the Los Angeles Clippers for guard Baron Davis and a No. 1 draft pick in the 2011 draft. That likely will be a lottery selection, although this draft is not considered to be particularly strong.

Below you’ll find a table with each player’s age, ’10-11 Player Efficiency Rating (via John Hollinger of ESPN) as well as their salaries for the next two seasons. Both contracts expire in 2013.

The Clippers are going to save approximately $11.7 million over the next two seasons with this trade. Even though Davis has a higher PER this season, they’re probably getting the better player in Mo Williams, who has battled injuries this year and hasn’t been the same since LeBron left last summer. I suspect he’ll be revitalized playing with Blake Griffin just as Davis was for the first half of the season.

When I first saw the headline about the Cavs trading for Davis, I chuckled, but with the Clippers’ first round pick included in the deal, it makes a lot more sense. The Cavs are basically buying the Clips’ #8 overall pick (which could end up being quite a bit higher or a little lower) in the 2011 draft for around $12 million.

Side note: It just goes to show how out of whack the NFL rookie salaries are for the top picks because it’s almost impossible to find an NFL team that wants to trade into the upper part of the draft. And here the Cavs are spending $12 million for that right because the NBA rookie salary scale is a much better deal for teams drafting in the lottery.

There’s no telling how this trade is going to work out until we see what kind of player the Cavs get with the pick. One thing it does buy the Cavs is hope. Mo Williams wasn’t going to take this team anywhere and neither is Baron Davis. Williams has more value because he’s going to provide about the same production at a fraction of the cost, but by acquiring a lottery pick, the Cavs have another building block for their rebuilding project.

The short-term winner in this trade is definitely the Clips. Not only did they shed themselves of Davis and his terrible contract (which they gave him in the first place), they also freed up enough cash in the summer of 2012 to make a run at a max free agent, assuming the next collective bargaining agreement allows for this. There are already rumors swirling that Deron Williams could join the Clips that summer, and Chris Paul could be a free agent next summer as well.

One thing is certain — the Clips have to sign/acquire a great player to play alongside Blake Griffin before he has an opportunity to sign elsewhere. If they can sign Deron Williams/Chris Paul, re-sign Griffin, and can keep Eric Gordon in the fold as well, the Clippers will really be in business.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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