Somewhat lost in all the blockbuster deals that went down just prior to the trade deadline was the trade that sent Baron Davis (and, more importantly, his contract) plus a first-round pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Mo Williams and Jamario Moon.
Davis’ name is what drew most of the headlines, because prior to the trade, he had been playing some of his most inspired basketball ever.
It appeared as though the Clippers’ primary impetus to pull the trigger on this deal was so they could shed themselves of the remaining three years and $42 million on Davis’ contract, which was said to be nearly “un-tradable” due to the lack of bang for their buck.
Davis was no longer a particularly productive player, and who wants to overpay for that?
The Cavs agreed to eat Davis’ contract in order to get what appears to be a lottery pick in the upcoming draft.
They’re a team in rebuilding mode, so it’s a smart move. They’re not really paying anybody big bucks, so they can afford to pay Davis.
Many believed that the Clippers were just getting whatever they could in exchange for Davis and the pick. Williams and Moon didn’t appear to be major impact players, despite Williams’ status as right-hand man to LeBron James on the recent successful Cavaliers teams.
However, this season, he was mired in a miserable slump.
After having shot nearly 43 percent from three-point range in each of the last two seasons, Williams’ percentage plummeted this season with the Cavs all the way down to 26.5; amongst the worst in the entire league.
He was also shooting just 38 percent from the field overall. That number is awful for anyone, especially a guy that shoots 44 percent for his career.
After the infamous “Decision”, Williams was absolutely crushed.
He apparently legitimately considered retiring from the NBA at age 27, saying, “This summer was very, very stressful for me. I really lost a lot of love for the game this summer.”
After his Cavaliers finished with the best record in the entire league during each of his two season there, Williams could not wrap his head around the new direction in which the franchise appeared headed.
James’ departure left the team in disarray; suddenly a rudderless boat floating aimlessly in the ocean.
Once the season started, things actually appeared to be okay.
Even without a superstar, Williams, Antawn Jamison and co. appeared as though they’d be strong enough to at least make it into the playoffs in the East, as they started the season 7-10.
Then, on December 2, LeBron and his Heatles came to town.
The crowd was in an absolute frenzy, booing and heckling LeBron and his team to no end.
The game was competitive at first, but James appeared to use the disdain coming from the crowd to fuel his performance.
He finished the game with a season-high (to that point) 38 points, along with eight assists and five rebounds.
The Cavaliers’ will appeared completely broken by the midway mark of the third quarter, and they lost in lopsided fashion, 118-90.
They entered that game with seven wins, and, by the time Williams was dealt to Los Angeles on February 23, they had mustered just three more in 39 games.
Williams missed 10 games during the Cavs’ dubious-NBA record 26-game losing streak, only to come back in game 27 to lead Cleveland to a win over, ironically, the Clippers.
Shortly thereafter, he wound up in L.A.
Since his arrival, he seems to have rekindled his love for the game.
In his five games as a Clipper, Williams is averaging 19 points and 6.5 assists per game.
More importantly, though, he’s back to shooting the ball well, as he’s hit on nearly 48 percent of his three-point attempts in those five games.
His on-court leadership has been evident, as well, particularly during Wednesday night’s shocking 108-103 victory over the Celtics in Boston.
With Eric Gordon out, once again, and the Celtics absolutely smothering Blake Griffin (12 points, 4-14 shooting, double-teamed all night long), Williams stepped up.
He had a little help from DeAndre Jordan (21 points, nine rebounds), but Williams finished with a team-high 28 points including 5-7 shooting from beyond-the-arc. Two of those threes came in the final few minutes, when Boston was making its late charge. He also hit three crucial free-throws in the waning seconds.
Those shots were effectively daggers through the collective heart of the Celtics.
When the Clippers were in desperate need of a bucket, Williams was not shying away from the moment.
After a tumultuous summer and half-season with the woeful Cavaliers that left an awful taste in his mouth, Mo Williams is tasting success again.
And he likes it.
About the Author
Written by Taylor Smith
Taylor Smith is a writer for the Los Angeles Clippers.