David Kahn is at it again

The Minnesota Timberwolves had the worst record in the NBA and the best chance to win the #1 overall pick, but ended up with the #2 pick when the Cavs leapfrogged from #8 to #1. GM David Kahn didn’t take the news gracefully. (Brian Mahoney, AP)

Wolves general manager David Kahn said he knew Minnesota was “dead” when it got down to the final three of himself, Utah executive Kevin O’Connor and Nick Gilbert.

“This league has a habit, and I am just going to say habit, of producing some pretty incredible story lines,” Kahn said. “Last year it was Abe Pollin’s widow and this year it was a 14-year-old boy and the only thing we have in common is we have both been bar mitzvahed. We were done. I told Kevin: ‘We’re toast.’ This is not happening for us and I was right.”

I bolded the interesting bit. Kahn went out of his way to point out that he was just saying “habit,” but by doing so it sure seemed he was implying that the lottery may have been fixed without going so far as actually saying it.

Then again, he might have been joking about the fact that he “knew” he was in trouble when there was a 14-year-old kid representing a team in the final three, but with his track record, he should know what to say and what not to say.

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Cavs win #1 overall pick

The Cleveland Cavaliers will have two of the first four picks in the 2011 NBA Draft, which should help in the rebuilding effort. There is no LeBron James in this draft, but there are some good players that will become stars, or at least solid starters. My early guess is that the Cavs will take Kyrie Irving, who has a chance to become a franchise point guard. He will need to mature as a floor leader, but he’s lightning quick, has good vision and can shoot it.

The pick was originally obtained as part of the Baron Davis trade with the Clippers. It had a 2.8% chance of becoming the #1 pick.

See the full draft order here.

Breakdown of Charlie Villanueva/Ryan Hollins tussle [video]

Strange scene in Detroit last night during the Pistons/Cavs game. Charlie Villanueva set a hard screen on Ryan Hollins (throwing his shoulder into him a little bit). Hollins didn’t avoid the contact and threw a shoulder of his own trying to go through Villanueva’s pick.

Watch as Villanueva reacts to the news that he was ejected.

One thing that’s interesting to note here is the favoritism that the Cavs announcers showed Hollins. I guess that should be expected, but at every point during the incident, the guy doing the color commentary, Austin Carr (I’m assuming — let me know if I’m wrong), blamed Villanueva exclusively as if Hollins was completely innocent during the incident.

Villanueva definitely gave his screen a little extra (he reportedly said after the game that Hollins had hit him with an intentional elbow earlier in the game) but Hollins threw his shoulder into Charlie V as he set the pick. Then Hollins wrapped up Villanueva which led to Villanueva raising his arms up into Hollins’ face. Had Hollins let go there, the two probably would have had a stare down or a pushing match and neither would have been ejected.

The most perplexing thing about this situation is Villanueva’s reaction to getting ejected. At the 1:29 mark he learns that he’s been tossed, and it takes him a full seven seconds of stroking his chin before he decides to go after Hollins.

Cavs get some measure of revenge on LeBron, Heat

A 14-win team doesn’t have much to play for this time of year, but give the Cavs credit, they showed up on Tuesday night to face LeBron, riding a thirsty crowd to a 102-90 victory.

The Cavs led by 23 points with 5:06 remaining in the third quarter, but the Heat went on a 22-4 run to close the quarter and cut Cleveland’s lead to five at the break.

Mike Bibby’s seventh three-pointer of the game tied the score at 83-83, but the Cavs went on a 12-0 run (sparked by Luke Harangody of all people) that included four points from Ryan Hollins and six points from Anthony Parker.

LeBron finished with a 27-10-12 triple-double, but the Cavs had the last laugh, breaking the Heat’s five-game winning streak and knocking Miami out of a tie with Boston for the #2 spot in the East.

As a side note, Chris Bosh had another clunker, shooting just 5-of-14 from the field for 10 points to go along with four rebounds and four assists. He was thoroughly outplayed by J.J. Hickson (21 points, 12 rebounds) and Hollins (13 points, three blocks). Bosh was coming off seven double-doubles in his last eight games, but his performance in tough environments on the road is something to keep an eye on.

Here are the highlights:

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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