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Baron Davis just couldn't make it work

MARK HEISLER / ON THE NBA

The strong-willed, often-injured point guard is traded to the Cavaliers for Mo Williams, a move that doesn't answer the Clippers' big questions.

February 24, 2011|By Mark Heisler
  • Baron Davis may not have been the most productive player, but trading him to Cleveland won't do much to help the Clippers this season.
Baron Davis may not have been the most productive player, but trading him… (Thomas Campbell / U.S. Presswire )

Baron, we hardly knew ye …

Oh, right, you're from here, went to UCLA and remained a local favorite … until you were traded here.

As homecomings go, this was like deranged, ax-wielding Jack Nicholson in "The Shining," chopping through a door, announcing:

"Wendy, I'm home!"

Wendy, home is now Cleveland.

In another deadline surprise, the Clippers traded Baron Davis and this spring's unprotected No. 1 pick — currently No. 7 — to Cleveland for Mo Williams, a defrocked All-Star, and Jamario Moon, who's like Al-Farouq Aminu, without the polish.

Of course, now that the Wicked Which-Persona-Is-He-In-Today of the West is gone, happy days are here again!

Or not …

If Williams is lower maintenance and has $17 million coming over two seasons to Baron's $28 million, he isn't as good a playmaker.

With Blake Griffin a restricted free agent in 2013 and free as a bird in 2014, momentum is everything.

Unfortunately for the Clippers, nearing the two-season mark, they don't have any.

Local TV ratings are up more than 100%, you may not be able to buy a seat in the lower bowl the rest of the season … and it could all be gone like that.

Davis took his shot at a storybook ending, leading the Clippers' 14-7 run, averaging 14 points and 7.3 assists, shooting a torrid-for-him 44%.

Unfortunately, Eric Gordon was hurt, the team spun out — and Davis asked to rest his sore left knee, as he did in New Orleans on Wednesday, going out with a DNP.

Whether that did it, or Davis was already a goner for the previous 1,001 letdowns, it was at least one too many.

Of course, everything the Clippers have ever had has always gone, like that.

Nevertheless, with Griffin looking like the kind of All-American who's theirs to lose, aside from all his other virtues, they have a treasure map leading to the day he signs …

They hope.

February, March, April 2011 — Williams shows he's a piece of the puzzle.

Williams at least shoots better than Davis and became an All-Star alongside LeBron James.

However, James was down on him by the end of his days there, which was why the Cavaliers offeredWilliams to the Clippers last spring, hoping to mollify LeBron.

June 2011 — Clippers shop for a major piece, offering Chris Kaman and their unprotected 2012 No. 1 pick from Minnesota.

July 2011 — Clippers re-sign Gordon, showing Griffin their commitment to their key players.

Team officials say this won't be their usual negotiation that's put off for a year until the player's value is established on the open market … after which he leaves.

Yes, they're going right to the maximum!

On the other hand, business is business, totally unpredictable.

How did Trevor Ariza leave the Lakers?

How did James wind up in Miami with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh?

The soft-spoken Gordon's college recruitment lasted two years after the Indianapolis native committed to Illinois, asked to be re-recruited when Indiana fired Mike Davis and hired Kelvin Sampson — who hired Eric's father's college coach as an assistant.

Gordon wound up as a Hoosier.

Innocent-sounding as it was, Gordon's father recently told our Bill Plaschke:

"Speaking strictly as a dad, I'd rather him play in the Eastern Conference so we could see him more."

In any case, you'll know by the start of next season how it's going …

Assuming, of course — aw, you heard it before.

I know what you're thinking. It's what I always think when the Clippers do something surprising.

Experience has taught me pinning surprises on owner Donald T. Sterling is accurate only, let's say, 75% of the time.

The Don, who heckled Davis from courtside, turned this deal down last spring to see how Davis did under a new coach.

When Davis did what he had for the old coaches, The Don didn't take it well.

If things aren't tough all over, when you have the credibility born of messing up everything for decades, people say anything …such as ESPN.com's story with its usual zany touch — an unnamed GM suggesting Griffin's grief at Davis' departure could oblige the Clippers to trade Blake.

Back on Earth, Griffin will be a Clipper for at least three more seasons, which are looking more exciting.

mark.heisler@latimes.com

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