The Cavaliers are on the verge of trading Mo Williams and Jamario Moon to the Los Angeles Clippers for point guard Baron Davis and the Clippers' unprotected 2011 first-round pick, a league source confirmed to the Beacon Journal early Thursday morning.
The trade, first reported by Yahoo! Sports and NBA.com, should give the Cavs two picks in the top 10 of June's NBA draft.
The Cavs have been working on this trade since last summer. It is another bold sign of the commitment owner Dan Gilbert has made to winning in Cleveland. Davis is owed about $29 million over the next two seasons -- about double what Williams is set to earn over the same time.
More importantly, the Cavs did not have to use their $14.5 million trade exception created by the LeBron James trade to get the deal done. The salaries of Moon and Williams get the Cavs close enough to the $13 million Davis is earning this season to make the trade work under league rules.
The trade won't be official until a conference call with the league takes place, which should occur later on Thursday.
Davis is earning slightly more than $13 million this season. He'll make about $14 million next season and just under $15 million in 2012-13. Williams is earning slightly more than $9 million this season and he'll make about $8.5 million each of the next two seasons. Moon is on an expiring deal worth about $3 million.
Davis, a 13-year veteran who turns 32 in April, is averaging 12.8 points and seven assists per game. It's his lowest scoring average since his rookie season and he has been criticized for being out of shape most of this season. But the Cavs were more interested in the unprotected pick, which guarantees they'll receive the Clippers' pick in this draft regardless of where they're slotted to select. Currently, they have the seventh-worst record in the NBA.
Davis previously played for Cavs coach Byron Scott in New Orleans and the pair clashed, with Davis ultimately getting traded away when Scott wanted the team to get more athletic. But they repaired that relationship last season, when Scott's Hornets visited Los Angeles for a preseason game.
After the game, Davis approached Scott, apologized for the way he behaved and told Scott he loved him. Davis said he just needed to mature to understand what Scott wanted out of him. After Scott boarded the team bus, his emotions of the moment nearly brought him to tears, he said two weeks ago when Davis and the Clippers visited the Cavs.
Neither Davis nor Williams played in their games Wednesday night. Williams was held out of the Cavs' game with a sore ankle, which he reinjured in the win over the Los Angeles Lakers last week prior to the All-Star break. He missed both of the Cavs' practices this week with the injury. Davis was held out of the Clippers' game Wednesday with a swollen knee. He had wanted to play in the game, but was held out as a "precaution" by coach Vinny Del Negro.
Davis has endured a tough few days and was reportedly stunned when learning of the trade. He was emotional Tuesday night at Oklahoma City, according to the Los Angeles Times, because he was dealing with a family member who was ill and taken to the hospital.
It has been an equally difficult season for Williams, who has battled injuries since training camp and whose father-in-law died suddenly during the preseason.
Williams arrived late to Quicken Loans Arena on Wednesday and left before reporters were allowed in the locker room. As he departed, he glanced over at the crowd of media waiting for Scott to begin his postgame press conference, smiled and gave a dramatic wave.
At the time, no one knew he was actually waving goodbye.
Williams is averaging 13.3 points and 7.1 assists this season. He is shooting 38.5 percent -- his lowest since his rookie year -- and he's shooting just 26.5 percent on 3-pointers. Williams, 29, was deeply impacted by LeBron James' decision to leave Cleveland, but insisted since last summer he was committed to remaining in Cleveland through the rebuilding years.
Now he won't get that opportunity.
He was brought to Cleveland to be the second scorer behind James, but will ultimately be remembered for struggling to score in the playoffs and struggling to defend point guards such as the Boston Celtics' Rajon Rondo and the Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose.
Moon, who turns 31 this summer, began the season as James' replacement as the starting small forward, but quickly fell out of favor with Scott. He was in and out of the rotation all season and leaves averaging 4.7 points and 3.0 rebounds.
In Davis, the Cavs are taking on an enormous contract previously thought to be among the worst in the league. It is why they insisted on the Clippers' pick in this draft being unprotected. The Cavs also tried getting Minnesota's first-round pick for next season included, which the Clippers possess and is also unprotected. The Clippers refused because they aren't high on this draft, a league source said, but they like next year's draft better.
With the trade deadline today at 3 p.m., the Cavs still have more time to use their trade exception or flip Anthony Parker for another player or more picks. As it stands now, the Cavs have four picks in this draft (two first rounders, two second rounders).
They have previously been linked to Charlotte's Gerald Wallace, but a league source said the Cavs are no longer in trade talks to acquire the 10-year veteran. The Cavs could also hold onto the trade exception and try to use it again closer to the June draft.
Despite Davis' hefty deal, the Cavs got exactly what they needed -- another high draft pick to expedite the rebuilding process. They still have some options, since Antawn Jamison will have a $15 million expiring contract next season and now Davis -- provided he remains with the Cavs -- will have a $15 million expiring deal to use during the 2012-13 season.