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.

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The Conference Finals: The four trades that got us here

We’re down to four teams…Cavs/Magic…Lakers/Nuggets…

What do they have in common? Star power, efficient offense, pretty solid defense, good coaching…check, check, check and check.

But how about an aggressive front office?

Each of these four teams made a major trade in the last two years.

July 11, 2007: The Magic sign Rashard Lewis
This was a sign-and-trade, not a straight free agent signing, but the Magic only had to give up a conditional second round pick. The upside for the then-Seattle Supersonics was a trade exception worth $9 million. The contract (six years, $110 million) seemed outlandish at the time, and Lewis is still overpaid, but the Magic did what they had to do to get him. He’s a great fit for what Orlando is trying to do. They are built like the Rockets were in the Hakeem Olajuwon era — find a big man who commands a double-team, and surround him with great shooters. Lewis is the Magic’s version of Robert Horry in that he’s a lanky, versatile, sharpshooting big man. Strength-wise, he’s not built like a typical power forward, but since the NBA has gotten smaller and quicker over the past few years, he can get by against most teams. Offensively, he creates all sorts of problems for opposing power forwards as he can drill the long ball (career 39% from 3PT) or take it to the rack. He’s also pretty good in the post when teams try to defend him with a smaller player.

Sure, the Magic overpaid on that contract, but I think it’s safe to say that if they hadn’t, they wouldn’t be in the Eastern Conference Finals right now. Lewis is a big, big part of Orlando’s recent success. GM Otis Smith deserves a lot of credit for having the cojones to pull the trigger on this deal.

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Cavs acquire Mo Williams via trade

The Cleveland Cavaliers may have found LeBron’s sidekick… Mo Williams.

Mo Williams, the high-scoring point guard from Milwaukee, will go to Cleveland in the deal, which should be announced later Wednesday.

The 6-foot-1 Williams averaged 17.2 points and a team-high 6.3 assists for the Bucks last season.

Cleveland will send shooting guard Damon Jones to Milwaukee and forward Joe Smith to Oklahoma City.

Milwaukee also will get point guard Luke Ridnour and forward Adrian Griffin from Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma City, formerly known as the Seattle SuperSonics, also gets Desmond Mason, the athletic small forward, from the Bucks.

I know there are many Bucks fans celebrating this move. A lot of people don’t like Mo’s game since he’s not a pass-first point guard. But he was 16th in the league in assists (6.3), and he’s a terrific scorer (17.2 ppg) and a pretty good rebounder (3.5 rpg) for a point guard. He’s sort of a poor man’s Gilbert Arenas. He’s not a terribly good defender, but since leaving the Jazz a few years ago, he hasn’t been around a defensive-minded coach. If Mike Brown can get some defense out of him, he could turn Williams into an All-Star caliber player. I love this trade for the Cavs.

And, as a Bucks fan, I hate this trade for Milwaukee. Luke Ridnour? Really? That’s the best you can do for a guy who averaged 17 points and six assists last season? Bucks GM John Hammond made some nice moves this offseason, but I don’t like this trade one bit.

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