HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS (WEST COAST OFFICE) — The deal the Clippers celebrated in February as the chance to add Mo Williams and ditch Baron Davis and his bloated contract became the source of at least an instant of stabbing pain Tuesday when the Lottery pick included in the trade turned into the No. 1 pick in the Draft for the Cavaliers.
Cleveland got the selection along with Davis for Williams and Jamario Moon, and so Cleveland will almost certainly take Kyrie Irving with the top selection on June 23 as the Duke freshman becomes the point guard of the future for the Cavaliers instead of the Clippers. Guess what the Clips will be hearing about all summer?
“Protecting the pick was never an option,” L.A. general manager Neil Olshey told NBA.com. “There is no way to Monday morning quarterback this (since) our draft position wouldn’t have been the same had we not made the deal as I’m sure we would not have finished 11-11 post-trade without Mo Williams.
“Additionally, we had a 97-percent chance of sitting here tonight with Baron Davis (taking up 25 percent of our cap), the eighth pick in a weak draft and no cap flexibility. Adding Mo Williams and $8.5 million in cap room gave us a better opportunity to become a playoff team next year than adding a seventh player under 23 with no NBA experience.”
Saying adding protection to the pick — for the top three, for example — was not possible is an indication the clause would have been a deal breaker for the Cavaliers. Given the chance to scuttle the deal or jump on the rare chance to move Davis’ contract, the Clippers took the risk that would blow up on them months later.
The Clippers figured, or hoped, they were trading the No. 8 choice in a bad draft and that there was little chance of a bad outcome. Indeed, there was only a 2.8 percent chance the pick would move all the way to the top. Welcome to that bad outcome.