Report: Baron Davis expected to fail physical
Much has been made of the trade between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Los Angeles Clippers which sent Mo Williams and Jamario Moon to L.A. in exchange for controversy-laden and Donald Sterling nemesis, Baron Davis. But for the Cavaliers, the crux of the trade surrounded the Clippers unprotected 1st round pick.
In the NBA, teams can trade their draft picks which can be fully unprotected as in this instance, or protected. In the case of a protected pick, teams can determine the terms of the protection so that if the pick ends up being a lottery pick, a top 5 pick or the #1 overall pick, they are able to keep the pick and the team which acquired it in a trade misses out.
The Clippers’ pick that was sent to Cleveland was projected to be the #8 overall pick at the time of the trade but can be no worse than the bottom of the lottery. For the Cavaliers, who will likely possess no worse than the #3 overall pick assuming they remain the worst team in the NBA (seemingly a pretty safe bet), this is an extremely valuable trade in order to speed up the rebuilding process. For a team that is unable to bring in big ticket free agents, having two lottery picks is invaluable to the rebuilding process.
There may be a slight hitch in the savvy trade pulled off by the Cavaliers (and the penny-pinching trade executed by the Clippers), however. Roto World has reported that Lisa Dillman of the L.A. Times has confirmed that Baron Davis failed his outgoing physical with the Clippers and is expected to fail his incoming physical with the Cavaliers due to his “gimpy and swollen right knee.” This also explains the delay in Davis’ reporting to Cleveland.
This news is not expected to hold up the trade, however, as for the Cavaliers, the trade was all about that #1 pick. They won’t say it publicly, but anything Baron Davis does to help the Cavaliers is just a bonus. If he never stepped foot onto the floor at Quicken Loans Arena they would still be thrilled with the trade.
Publicly, head coach Byron Scott (who has had an extremely bumpy relationship with Baron Davis during their days in New Orleans) will tell you that Baron can still be a top-flight point guard and that he expects him to eventually start for the Cavs. This is likely “coach-speak” intended to motivate Davis and get his full effort if and when he arrives. Many fans and local sportswriters question that strategy as young point guard, Ramon Sessions has made significant progress and shows a great deal of potential.
Baron Davis was originally reported to be extremely unhappy with the trade to Cleveland and many questioned his attitude and dedication he would show once he arrived. Davis tweeted during the Cavaliers victory over the Knicks, however, that he was excited to play alongside J.J. Hickson. By all accounts he and Byron Scott have patched up the relationship, but it may be a moot point due to this report.
Technically, if Baron fails his physical the Cavs could ask for additional compensation or even void the trade. It’s possible that they will ask for additional compensation, but even if they are denied I don’t see a scenario in which they will void the trade and forfeit the coveted unprotected 1st round pick.