The Los Angeles Clippers are far from a successful franchise in NBA terms. They could possibly be one of the unluckiest teams in league history if their past is anything to go by, and the following story is only going to support these claims.
Back in the 2011 NBA season, the Clippers were among one of the worst teams in the league. Even though they had rookie Blake Griffin tearing things — and rims — up, the rest of the roster wasn’t much to write home about, unless you consider an underdeveloped DeAndre Jordan and Eric Bledsoe core pieces, which they would turn out to be, to be fair.
They also had an aging Baron Davis on their squad who was eating up their salary cap room after signing a 5-year, $65 million deal back in 2008 for the Clips. In an effort to get younger, LA obviously wanted to get rid of him.
According to then-Clippers general manager Neil Olshey:
“The drill is, as always, is ‘Is the player you’re getting back more valuable than the potential you could get in the draft?'” said Clippers general manager Neil Olshey. “Our analysis at this point in February is that it was more valuable to get a 28-year-old All-Star point guard that we have for the next few years, cap flexibility to make sure we take care of business and re-sign DeAndre Jordan and have flexibility to take care of Eric Gordon as well, as opposed to speculating on another kid that’s 19 years old with one year of college experience.
“And I’m not that high on the draft to begin with this year.”
That’s where the Cavaliers come in. Cleveland were entering their first season without hometown hero LeBron James on the roster, and boy did it show. During the 2011 season, the Cavs went on a 26-game losing streak, broken by none other than, you guessed it, the Clippers. Cleveland desperately wanted to get better by any means necessary, even if it meant claiming Baron Davis’ contract to grab another first-round pick.
So that’s exactly what happened. The Clippers agreed to trade Baron Davis and his terrible contract, as well as an unprotected first-round pick to the Cavs for one-time All-Star Mo Williams and Jamario Moon. The deal was considered nothing but a drop in the NBA ocean at the time, that is until the 2011 draft came.
The Clips finished with the eighth-worst record in the league, giving the Cavaliers only a 10 percent chance at jumping into the top three draft picks and a 2.8 percent chance at landing the top pick with the choice they acquired from the Clippers. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers had a 19.9 percent chance of getting the top pick with their own pick. Pretty slim odds.
Well guess what? The Clippers pick won the NBA lottery that year, giving the Cavs not only the fourth pick — their own — but the first as well.
Those picks materialized into none other than Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson, players who would be crucial in Cleveland’s pursuit of an NBA championship once LeBron returned in 2015.
What happened to Baron Davis? Cavaliers use the amnesty clause on Baron Davis and it was a very smart move.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have officially announced that they have used their team’s “amnesty clause” on Baron Davis, and waived the 32-year old guard from their roster. Davis’ current contract will pay him 13.95 million dollars this season, and Davis has a player option for 14.85 million next season. Davis will still make that money, but his contract will no longer count against Cleveland’s salary cap figures.
That begs the question though. If LA had never traded the pick and won the lottery themselves, would LeBron have returned to a Kyrie-less Cavs squad in 2015? If he did, would they have won the title in 2016 if he was playing for the Clippers?
Numerous other questions are raised with this decision. Would the Clippers even have chosen Irving with the number one pick? Would CP3 have been traded to the Clippers? The NBA could have very well been a different landscape if the Clips weren’t so goddamn incompetent.