Sunday, June 5, 2011

0 comments No Regrets, Right?

As everyone is probably aware the NBA lottery was a couple of Tuesdays ago and the Clippe---the Cavaliers got the top pick in the draft. The pick was originally the Clippers pick, but it got sent to the Cavaliers in a trade for Baron Davis. The Clippers wanted out of the rest of Davis' contract that totaled 2 years and $28.7 million dollars. The Clippers in return got Jamario Moon's expiring contract and Mo Williams (who will make $17 million over the next two years) and sent the Cavs, Baron Davis and an unprotected first round draft pick for 2011. This pick turned into the #1 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.

I criticized the trade at the time for the Cavs because I didn't think Baron Davis was a great addition to the team, but I did like the Cavs got a first round pick for their troubles. Even in a (perceived) weak draft that's not a bad deal for them. So in essence, the Cavaliers traded Mo Williams plus having future cap space (in Moon's expiring contract) for Baron Davis and the #1 overall pick in the 2011. That's not a bad deal for the Cavs, even if they do have to put up with Baron Davis. At worst, they deal with him for one year and then trade his expiring contract.

I don't know how I feel the Clippers side of the trade now. It got them cap space and Mo Williams isn't a bad player. It would probably be nice to have that #1 overall pick though. You may think the Clippers are regretting the trade a bit, but you wouldn't know the Clippers and you would be wrong. Scott Howard-Cooper gives us the details.

Cleveland got the selection along with Davis for Williams and Jamario Moon, and so Cleveland will almost certainly take Kyrie Irving with the top selection on June 23 as the Duke freshman becomes the point guard of the future for the Cavaliers instead of the Clippers.

Let me get one thing out of the way first...I did a preview of this year's draft a few months ago. I said the draft wasn't that bad. Unfortunately, nearly half of the players going in the Top 10 in that mock draft did not enter this year's draft, so that did affect what the actual depth and talent of the draft will be. I still don't think it is a terrible draft, but teams aren't going to find America All-Star talent among the lottery picks, except for a few players. There are a bunch of foreign players with potential, some guys who will be NBA contributors, and just a couple guys with All-Star potential. Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams could have bright futures in the NBA, so teams that pick in the Top 3 are still in luck. That means the Cavs are in luck. This means the Clippers are not in as much luck.

Guess what the Clips will be hearing about all summer?

The fact they are the Clippers and have bad shit happen to them all the time so they should have been prepared for the fact if they made a trade that involved an unprotected first round pick it would somehow turn into a valuable position in a weaker draft? It is like the Clippers don't realize they are the Clippers.

Shouldn't the Clippers be used to the bad luck they have and plan accordingly? No, of course not!

“Protecting the pick was never an option,” L.A. general manager Neil Olshey told

It wasn't an option to get the trade to go through or it wasn't an option at all because the Clippers didn't make it an option? There's a difference. Protecting the pick should have been an option. It's like wearing your seatbelt. Sure, you probably aren't going to get in a horrific auto accident, but why take the chance? If the Cavs wouldn't do the trade if the pick was protected, then if the Clippers wanted to make the trade they had to not protect the pick. I get this. This doesn't mean the Clippers can't regret trading the unprotected first round pick though. It's only natural.

“There is no way to Monday morning quarterback this (since) our draft position wouldn’t have been the same had we not made the deal as I’m sure we would not have finished 11-11 post-trade without Mo Williams.

Oh no, there is a way to Monday Morning quarterback this. Couldn't the Clippers have top-3 protected the pick or something? Would the Cavs have turned down the trade at that point? I have no idea. The Cavs couldn't have really thought the pick would be a Top-3 pick, could they have? As bad as the Clippers were at the time of the trade, I find it hard to believe the Cavs would have been so confident this would be a Top-3 pick they would have turned the trade down. I am sure they will CLAIM that was their position, but only because it makes them look like geniuses. Just like the Clippers will claim protecting the pick wasn't an option because it doesn't make them seem as stupid.

The reason in my mind, we can Monday Morning quarterback this decision a bit is because of the logic behind the statement Olshey made here. So the position of the Clippers GM is they were a WORSE team before the trade than they ended up being at the end of the year, so that's why they didn't protect the pick? So fully knowing his team was playing terribly, the Clippers GM made the trade under the assumption the team would play better after the trade, which is not a terrible assumption to make, but does seem a bit risky. If the trade makes the Clippers worse, they have made a trade that increased the odds the first round pick they traded will be a first round pick.

Please keep in mind, the Clippers did not get worse after the trade, they got better. So the trade was made fully knowing the odds were HIGHER at that time of the trade the pick could end up being #1 overall, than they ended up being at the end of the year?

Isn't this a bit backwards? Maybe this reasoning would make sense if the Clippers got worse after the trade. Olshey could say he never thought the team would get worse after getting rid of Baron Davis and so that's why he didn't protect the pick. Olshey's excuse essentially is "who could have foreseen the trade would actually be a good one for us?"

“Additionally, we had a 97-percent chance of sitting here tonight with Baron Davis (taking up 25 percent of our cap), the eighth pick in a weak draft and no cap flexibility.

Well actually as it was made clear, the odds would have been higher the Clippers got the #1 overall pick if they had kept Baron Davis because the team performed worse with him out there. So there wouldn't have been a 97% chance of the Clippers getting the 8th pick, but a much higher chance they could have landed the #1 overall pick since the Clippers were worse with Baron Davis on the team.

So Clippers fans should be happy the team has cap flexibility, no first round pick in a weak draft, and the team can continue to build around Blake Griffin...until he leaves in free agency of course.

Adding Mo Williams and $8.5 million in cap room gave us a better opportunity to become a playoff team next year

Quite possibly. It is hard to argue with something that may or may not happen in the future like this, but the cap room did help the Clippers. So that's true. It still doesn't explain why the pick wasn't protected. It also doesn't explain why Olshey can't just say he regrets not trying harder to protect the pick. Some of these reasons given by Olshey are viable and reasonable, but it still doesn't explain why the pick wasn't protected. Could the trade not have gone through if the pick wasn't protected? Who knows, but it makes the Clippers management sound even worse when they are quoted as saying they don't regret not protecting the pick. Few people could have seriously seen the pick turning into the #1 overall pick, so it is fine to admit you regret not trying harder to Top-3 protect the pick.

than adding a seventh player under 23 with no NBA experience.”

This might be my favorite part of Olshey's quote. He uses the youth of his team as a reason to not want to draft more players that are young. Apparently he doesn't see the Clippers as rebuilding, he just thinks they are too young to compete right now. He thinks this team is on the right track, but just needs to mature some more into a playoff team. While some teams build through the draft, the Clippers see too many draft picks as a bad thing because that means players (like Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon) who have no NBA experience and are young can't compete in the NBA right now.

Apparently the Thunder, who have built their team around a core that is 22, 21, 21, 26, and 22 years of age, just missed the memo on this. The Bulls, who are built around a core that is 22, 26, 26, and 29 years old also missed this memo. They seemed to have added (at some point) young players with no NBA experience and it is currently working out for them.

Now I am not saying any of the players in the upcoming draft are Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, or Kevin Durant. Isn't it a bit stupid to not want players under the age of 23 simply based on the fact they have no NBA experience? Talent is talent. The Clippers two best players are both 22 years of age and apparently this is a bad thing to put other talented young players around Griffin and Eric Gordon. Every team needs veteran leadership, but I don't think it makes sense for a team to not want another young player simply because of his age and lack of NBA experience. I know Clippers fans will state the team didn't need the #1 overall pick, but at least this would give them trade options. At a worse case scenario, you end up with Kyrie Irving or Enes Kanter.

Saying adding protection to the pick — for the top three, for example — was not possible is an indication the clause would have been a deal breaker for the Cavaliers.

Olshey said it wasn't an option. Who really knows what that means? We can assume the Cavs wouldn't have done the deal if it had Top-3 protection, and that may be a safe assumption. The Clippers have to regret this deal though, knowing what they know now. Regardless of how weak this draft is, a guy like Kanter, Williams, or Irving would look good on the Clippers roster. It would at least give them options to have the pick in their possession.

I'm not saying it was a bad trade at the time, because I didn't like it from the Cavs perspective at the time, but even with full knowledge of what happened the Clippers don't regret holding out for a Top-3 protection on the pick? Come on, I don't believe that.

Given the chance to scuttle the deal or jump on the rare chance to move Davis’ contract, the Clippers took the risk that would blow up on them months later.

Exactly. They took the risk. Taking the risk doesn't mean the risk was a bad one, but after learning the pick that was traded was the #1 overall pick, there is nothing wrong with saying they had wished the pick was Top-3 protected. Mo Williams played well after coming to the Clippers, but he isn't a long-term impact player for them. There are 2-3 players in this draft that could be that long-term impact player who would fit in well with Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon. Of course, these are young players with no NBA experience, which for some reason scares the Clippers.

Again, I am not trying to overly-criticize the Clippers for trading the pick. They did what they had to do. They should have Top-3 protected the pick as well in retrospect. My big criticism is Olshey is acting like the Clippers don't regret trading the pick and it ending up being the #1 overall pick. They wouldn't even have to use the pick, at the very worst it gives them options. It would be natural to say, "that's bad luck and we wish we had a chance to Top-3 protect that pick," but instead Olshey is basically saying they wouldn't want the pick regardless and stating it is because the Clippers want to win now and the #1 overall pick wouldn't allow them to do that. I think that's dumb. They made the Baron Davis trade last offseason, they could probably find a taker this offseason as well.

The Clippers figured, or hoped, they were trading the No. 8 choice in a bad draft and that there was little chance of a bad outcome.

Which is a reasonable thought. Another reasonable thought is the Clippers generally seem to have bad luck. If at all possible, Top-3 protect the pick knowing you are the Clippers and bad shit happens to you.

Some have pointed out the Clippers could not have protected the pick, but that logic also fails as is explained very well by an editor at SBNation here. It would have taken some work, but they could have protected the pick if the Cavs agreed to it.

Indeed, there was only a 2.8 percent chance the pick would move all the way to the top. Welcome to that bad outcome.

Was this outcome foreseeable? Probably not. So I won't flog the Clippers too bad for that, but when the result is known, at least admit you probably should have held out for the pick to be Top-3 protected. The Clippers wouldn't look bad if they acknowledge the Cavs would not have agreed to this and so that's why the deal went through the way it did. It just sounds stupid to say the Clippers wouldn't want another young player anyway without "NBA experience" and they don't regret the way things ended up due to this reason.