Now, just bear with me on this.
Strange coming from me, I know. Wes’ correctly pointed out that, “No one is writing on Baron like you are these days”. He ain’t lying.
Granted, most of it has been negative, but the point stands. Sure, I’ve had a go or two at his expense, but it’s hardly undeserved.
If you watch NBA TV as much as I do, you might have noticed that they’ve turned the early morning and afternoon hours into a veritable Jeremy Lin marathon. Hell, I think they show the Laker/Knick game from last month at least twice a day. Got me to thinking about how Lin, for the money, ratings and general buzz he’s created, might just be the most underpaid player in recent memory. Shit, maybe ever.
Which brings me back to last February…
Back then, the Clippers were desperately searching for a team willing to take Baron’s fat (ahem) contract off their hands, having watched Blake Griffin’s monster rookie season get torpedoed by Davis’ unwillingness to show up to camp in even halfway-decent shape. By the time Baron got around to playing, the Clippers were sporting a 3-15 record, which was probably enough to convince them that it was time to get Baron as far away from their future superstar as possible.
Of course, finding a taker for a bloated former star with a massive contract isn’t exactly easy. Eventually, they convinced Cleveland to take him, but only if they gave them their number 1 draft pick to wash him down. All things considered, getting Mo Williams for Baron and their pick (that was likely to fall in the 10-12 range) was the best they could do.
And then, Cleveland won the draft lottery and won the right to take Kyrie Irving with the number one pick.
Sure, at least some of this misfortune can be attributed to the dreaded Clipper curse, but the fact that Cleveland won the lottery despite facing extremely long odds is a giant stroke of luck any way you cut it.
And just like that, the Cavs went from “dead in the water” to “young team on the rise”. In the NBA, sometimes it just takes a little luck. Beacuse the Clippers were so desperate to rid themselves of B-Diddy, the Cavs’ fortunes changed dramatically.
And now, let’s fast forward to this year…
As a result of the Knicks’ customary brilliant decision making, they had managed to turn a young, talented team with cap room into a horribly shallow, un-even team with 2 stars, no chemsity, and no cap space. By overpaying for Carmelo Anthony and dumping Chauncey Billups to give Tyson Chandler a ridiculous 60 million dollar deal, the Knicks had entrusted their roster to the point guard tandem of Mike Bibby and Preston Shumpert.
And to the suprise of no one, New York stumbled to an 8-15 start, displaying no chemistry or leadership, and sporting the worst set of guards in the league. At this point, Knick fans were left to cling to the hopes that Baron Davis, who they signed after the Cavs used their amnesty clause on him, just might show up and save them from themselves.
In the meantime, they pressed on with what they had, and as an afterthought, picked up a young journeyman point guard who had already been cut by two other teams, just so they had a 3rd guy to play grabage-time minutes. The plan was to hold the fort until Baron was healthy enough to play.
Of course, Baron wasn’t ready to play as soon as they had antcipated because, well, he’s Baron Davis. Now, as a sheer act of desperation, the Knicks were pressed into playing that undrafted journeyman they had picked up as an afterthought.
Of course, that journeyman was Jeremy Lin, and the rest is history.
So add it up. Because he likely stopped caring the day Elton Brand spurned him to sign with the 76ers after promising to join him on the Clippers, because Baron doesn’t feel like the 12 million dollars a year he was being paid is enough to stay in reasonable shape, and because he seems to care more about producing crappy movies than living up to his potential as a player, two different franchises has been given brand new leases on life.
Because of Baron Davis, the Cleveland Cavaliers now have a future superstar to build around, and the New York Knicks have lucked into the international phenomenon that is Linsanity.
So there it is. Baron Davis is the NBA’s walking, breathing four-leaf clover. If I was Orlando, I’d trade Dwight Howard for him right this instant.
All that would be left to do is wait to see what bounty will befall them.
What, you have a better idea?