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.
Davis, along with what turned out to be the #1 overall pick in the 2011 draft, was traded to the Cavaliers for Mo Williams last season, and the Cavaliers did play significantly better after acquiring Davis. Davis’ three-point shooting was abnormally good in Cleveland — a career 32% three-point shooter, Davis shot 41.4% from deep in his 15 games with the Cavaliers.
That late-season shooting surge will make Davis enticing to a number of top teams who are currently without a great option at point guard, namely the Lakers, Heat, and Knicks. Size, passing ability, and outside shooting ability are what allows guards to play well once they get on the wrong side of 30 — Davis has always been a big guard (and has often shown up to training camps a bit too big), and has always passed well, but he has traditionally made his teams suffer by settling for a lot of outside shots and making very few of them.
If Davis’ 3-point shooting in Cleveland comes with him to his next team, he will help them — if it doesn’t, he could end up throwing away possessions for teams that have some great scorers on their rosters. (If you don’t believe NBA GMs are capable of having short memories when it comes to a player’s ability to shoot the 3, remember how much money Trevor Ariza made after he got hot from deep in the 2009 playoffs.)
Davis would have helped take some pressure off of #1 pick Kyrie Irving if he’d stayed in Cleveland, and Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert has been a very vocal opponent of letting the NBA’s best teams get better at the expense of small-market teams, so I’m inclined to believe that Davis either asked the Cavaliers to let him go or showed up to camp in such iffy shape that the Cavaliers don’t believe he’ll provide much help to whatever contender ultimately signs him. Of course, Davis was making a lot of money and providing relatively little production, so it’s possible that Dan Gilbert and Chris Grant might simply have plans for how to improve the team now that Davis’ contract no longer counts against their salary cap.