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Clippers and Cavaliers talked Mo Williams, Moon for Baron Davis this summer

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The Cavaliers were desperate this summer. They needed another name to bring in hopes of keeping LeBron James in town. They talked to Toronto but Chris Bosh didn’t want to go to Cleveland. That was just one of the steps, they asked around everywhere.

The Cavs got desperate enough to look to Baron Davis as a savior, according to Mark Heisler of the Los Angeles Times.

An NBA source says the Cavaliers then offered Mo Williams and Jamario Moon for the Clippers’ Baron Davis, desperate to please James, who likes Baron and was down on Mo … even with newly hired Coach Byron Scott having clashed with Davis in New Orleans.

That has disaster written all over it for the Cavaliers — and I have no idea why the Clippers would turn it down.

If James liked Davis — likely for quality beard advice — then the Cavs ahd to try. But it would have good poorly. For starters, there is the personality issue Heisler mentioned: Davis and Scott are not a good mix. At all.

But on the court Davis and James are a bad fit. Both need the ball in their hands to be at all effective, but while James is efficient Davis is that only in spurts. He mentally checks out of games and starts jacking up threes six seconds into the shot clock. Davis put up solid numbers last season but he was not a leader, he was not the Baron that led Golden State to upset Dallas in the playoffs. You can argue that being on a contender with LeBron means “good Baron” would have shown up most nights, but history would beg to differ. Good Baron is a rare and special sighting these days, and the real Davis would have clashed with the coach and LeBron.

As for the Clippers… why did they not do this? Mo Williams is a solid staring point guard with numbers close to Davis; Moon a good guy to bring off the bench for the three, where the Clippers are weakest. What’s more, with the return of Blake Griffin, the biggest question about the Clippers is how much Davis holds the team back. Will he jack up threes rather than feed the quality front line the Clippers have? Davis will have more freedom under Vinny Del Negro and that could be bad for getting the ball to the Clippers strengths.

Mo Williams does not have the upside of Davis, but he is reliable night-to-night. Last season Williams shot 42 percent from three, Davis 27.7 percent. Their PERs are not that different, and Williams is consistent. He might listen to the coach, he might run the offense. And you get an athletic wing player in Moon to throw in the mix.

Not sure why this deal died, or how far along it got, but if it was the Clippers that killed it they made a mistake. If it was Cleveland, they wised up.

Celtics president Danny Ainge on Brad Stevens: ‘He’s a keeper’

Brad Stevens

Celtics coach Brad Stevens has never finished a season with a winning record. He’s over .500 this year only because Boston came back to beat the lowly 76ers. He has never won a playoff game.

But Stevens – who signed a six-year, $22 million contract in 2013 – has plenty of job security.

Celtics president Danny Ainge, in a Q&A with Chris Forsberg of ESPN:

You’ve joked about it before, but are you ready to give him another six-year contract yet?

Ainge: [Laughs] Yeah.

You have to start thinking about that. Sure, we’re only in Year 3, but you can’t risk letting a good coach get away.

Ainge: No, listen, he’s a keeper. He’s great. He’s great to work with. Like I said, I think he’s going to be — if he stays in this game long enough — he’s going to be one of the great coaches.

I tend to agree with Ainge’s assessment. Stevens has looked like an excellent coach so far – implementing a sound defense, creating space on offense and communicating clearly with his players.

But Stevens has benefited tremendously from low expectations, arriving in Boston after Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen retired. Expectations sunk even lower when the Celtics traded Rajon Rondo last season.

That’s when Stevens appeared to do his best work, guiding a starless team to a 24-12 finish.

Expectations will keep rising, though. Some expected the Celtics to break out this year, but they’re just 8-7. Stevens faces the difficult task of managing a rotation full of pretty good – but no great – players. This might be his hardest NBA assignment yet.

Stevens has done plenty to earn praise from his boss. But to actually get a contract extension, he’ll have to keep meeting higher and higher expectations.

I believe Stevens is up to the challenge, but I’m not completely certain of it. He wouldn’t be the first coach to impress early in his tenure and then fizzle. Just look at how many Coach of the Year winners lost their jobs a short time later.

Again, I think Stevens will meet any reasonable expectations he faces. He just must actually do it to get a longer deal.

League executives, players wince watching this Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant
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Over the last few days, we’ve written in more detail about Kobe Bryant‘s shooting troubles. He’s jacking up threes his fastest pace ever, he can’t create space to get off clean shots, he’s hitting 31.1 percent overall and 19.5 percent from three. There are flashes of vintage Kobe, but they are fleeting (and mostly because poor shot choices are falling). Byron Scott is still in Kobe’s corner, saying they just need to get the veteran better looks.

However, talk to people around the league about Kobe and you hear some variation of the phrase “hard to watch.” After 20 seasons, more than 55,000 minutes on the court, and coming off two major injuries, Kobe clearly is not the same player everyone admired for so long.

Over at the Los Angeles Times Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner got a number of sources to wince about Kobe for a story — except nobody wanted their name attached to attacking a legend of the game.

“Man, I don’t want to see Kobe go out like this, looking this bad and not able to do what he once could do,” said a retired guard who faced Bryant. “He doesn’t have anything else to prove to anybody. He was one of the greatest. I know he’s owed that $25 million, but he should just walk away now. He ain’t got it anymore.”

“He’s one of the few players in NBA history to have gotten everything possible out of his body. Now his body has nothing left to give,” (an Eastern Conference executive) said. “But that’s life in the NBA, in professional sports. At some point, the body just can’t do it anymore and Kobe’s body can’t do it anymore.”

One West scout said Bryant looked “disinterested” at times. A current player in the West went a step further.

“Yeah, I’ve seen him play and it’s disgusting,” he said. “He’s one of the best of all time. But he really hasn’t played that much in the last two or three years. He’s got nothing left. It’s sad to watch because he used to be so great, and I mean great.”

Kobe is not going to walk away mid-season, and nobody wants an injury to force him out of the game.

But it’s hard to see how anything is going to dramatically change. Kobe may shoot a little better than his current but it’s not likely going to change in a meaningful way. Which will just make things hard to watch for a full season.

Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver

Manu Ginobili, Harrison Barnes, Tim Duncan
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The Spurs are 12-3 and comfortably in second place in the West, they have the best defense in the NBA allowing just 93.8 points per 100 possessions, and they have a top-10 offense to go with it.

So, time to start making sure guys are rested.

That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.

Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.

What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.

Brandon Armstrong impersonates Ray Allen (video)

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Ray Allen is retired-ish, but he’ll always be running through screens – in our mind and in this video.