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If Cavs sends Baron Davis packing, Lakers or Knicks may win

Nov 2, 2011, 8:34 AM EDT

Golden State Warriors v Cleveland Cavaliers

As we wait for Billy Hunter and David Stern to sit down and bother to talk to one another, one of the favorite games of NBA fans has become “amnesty clause roulette.”

Who will teams waive with the amnesty clause when the season stars again? Then, where will that player land?

Few scenarios are as interesting as Cleveland. There they have Baron Davis, a point guard on a team that spent the No. 1 pick on Kyrie Irving and also have Ramon Sessions in house. Davis is owed $13.9 million this season and $14.7 million next season (although you can buy him out of that second year for “just” $12.8 million).

Davis says he wants to mentor Irving, but the Clippers traded him to Cleveland (and sent the first round pick that became Irving) to get Davis and his questionable work ethic and attitude away from their young team. Ah, but it is not that simple, as ESPN pointed out in its look at players likely to get the amnesty axe.

The Cavs are known to not value cap space as much as trade assets. They’ve also been on a mission to acquire future draft picks since the departure of LeBron James. There’s also one more issue: If the Cavs were to burn their amnesty card on Davis, sources say LeBron’s Heat would become an instant suitor and serious threat to sign Baron … which would be painful beyond words for Cavs owner Dan Gilbert to stomach.

Miami needs a point guard and Davis, for all his flaws and focus issues, is way better than Mike Bibby. Except, Marc Stein reports at ESPN that Miami is not on top of Davis’ list.

Davis’ hometown Los Angeles Lakers and the New York Knicks, sources say, are the two teams he’s always dreamed of playing for.

Davis also still has a good relationship with the Charlotte community, Bobcats coach Paul Silas and Bobcats assistant coach Stephen Silas, all of which would likewise make the Bobcats an option if Michael Jordan is interested.

The Lakers need a new point guard for new coach Mike Brown’s system, and Davis is better than Derek Fisher or Steve Blake. But could he really be a facilitator in the classic sense, because in Los Angeles Kobe/Gasol/Bynum get the shots? New York is fascinating — when focused Davis is very good in the open court and could fit well in a Mike D’Antoni system. But Davis would be going to a city known to distract and would have to back up Chauncey Billups next season.

This is one of the fascinating things about the amnesty clause — it will make some elite teams better. There are guys who are likely going to get waived — Rashard Lewis, Andres Nocioni, Beno Udrih — can still contribute and it is the contenders that will go after them. Contenders can promise a shot at a ring if these guys will play a role on a veteran team, and most will jump at it.

No team may benefit as much as the Miami Heat, a team is need of quality role players on the cheap. But they might not get Baron Davis.

  1. savocabol1 - Nov 2, 2011 at 8:45 AM

    I highly doubt that someone who has been on the Cavs for mere months would be a shot to the heart of Dan Gilber if they left, regardless of where they go. Especially someone who 1) isn’t a young rising star 2) is now an injury prone veteran with a smaller window of playing time left and 3) has such a massive contract. I get more and more amazed on the amout of drama and conflicts the media attempts to generate with their stories.

    • Kurt Helin - Nov 2, 2011 at 9:21 AM

      Anyone who would go from Cleveland to help the Heat win would hurt Gilbert. Now, would injury prone, ball dominating Baron Davis help Miami win is another question.

      • barkley4life - Nov 2, 2011 at 9:33 AM

        Beno Udrih would be perfect in Miami. Miami needs a PG and more athletic length badly. They can’t go into next season with Haslem as their only legit big off the bench. They don’t really need Mike Miller any SF that can stretch the floor can fill his role. If they dont waive him with amnesty I don’t know what they are thinking. Haywood/Camby/Dalembert are the perfect type of veteran length they need.

        I don’t think Gilbert will care much after this year. Lebron stumbling as much as he did in the Finals is all that was needed for those wounds. The ultimate kill shot was if LBJ won in his first year. That would have DESTROYED Gilbert and Cleveland. Now its not that big of a deal IMO.

      • savocabol1 - Nov 2, 2011 at 10:23 AM

        You can think that all you want Kurt but Big Z going to the Heat didn’t hurt Cleveland. And he is Mr. Cleveland.

      • aqzi - Nov 2, 2011 at 1:54 PM

        savo: Solid point but I bet Cleveland would be hurt if Z stayed and then were to leave this year.

  2. ghelton03 - Nov 2, 2011 at 9:58 AM

    I am not for a one time amnesty when the lockout ends. It is not fair to the teams who have recently had to suffer through bad contracts, bad players, injuries and retirements. I would be more in favor of perminent rule changes that wouldn’t take effect for a couple of years.

    Gilbert should consider keeping every player he has. I don’t think any player, let alone a star player, will play for Gilbert after the lockout. And the hard cap will hurt Cleveland more than any other team. If you could make the same money in Cleveland as anywhere else in the league, you would go anywhere else in the league. The only chance Gilbert has to get a player is to overpay them. Otherwise he will only get the players that have no where else to go.

  3. sonofsambowie - Nov 2, 2011 at 1:38 PM

    This reads like Kurt hasn’t seen much of Baron since he left the GSW’s. The guy was a total embarrassment in LA, and basicallyruined the franchise for the last three years. The Clippers were so desperate to get rid of him that they shipped a pick and took back a guy they weren’t even that keen on. Baron’s time here was a total disaster.

    Also, I always shake my head when people say “oh, well he’s better than the guy they have now!”. What does that even mean? Who cares if he’s technically a better player or would beat the other guy in a game of 1-on-1 or whatever. Fact is, he’s been overweight for years, can hardly be counted on to stay healthy and basically just hoists threes these days, despite being 32% from deep for his career.

    • Kurt Helin - Nov 3, 2011 at 12:21 PM

      I have seen a lot of Davis in person. Davis remains what he was in GSW — when he shows up focused he’s very good. He just does that one out of every 10 games or so. The question is could a more veteran locker room get more out of him?

      • elliob - Nov 8, 2011 at 4:25 PM

        @Kurt, you expect other veterans to get more out of an under performing veteran with poor work ethic? When was the last time that worked?

  4. buckifan4life - Nov 2, 2011 at 3:01 PM

    Franchise tag is needed in Basketball. That would cause problems creating these superteams under a soft salary cap.

    Design your league like the NFL and it will flourish. Players will have less guaranteed money (which is BS in my opinion anyway). Owners need to keep the lockout until a reasonable contract can be met.

  5. Colin Zvosec - Nov 8, 2011 at 3:40 PM

    Davis was fantastic in Cleveland. I said it. I loved watching him after the trade. He played with energy and heart. He really embraced the “veteran leadership” role. He had started to do that in LA towards the end of his time there as well.

    If he goes to Miami, I can’t imagine anyway the Heat don’t win the championship. The thing about Baron is he knows how to be a true PG, but he’s shown the ability (much more limited now, but still there) to get shots up. It would be another guy LeBron could count on down the stretch because it was too easy for Dallas to make sure Wade didn’t score.

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