When the Cavaliers selected point guard Kyrie Irving with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, veteran Baron Davis’ future in Cleveland became uncertain.
On Wednesday, his short stay ended.
Using the NBA’s new amnesty clause, the Cavs waived Davis, a move that knocks the $28 million he is owed over the next two seasons off the salary cap. The Cavs will have to pay Davis, but they’ll have more flexibility going forward as they try to improve a team that won just 19 games last year.
Davis was acquired last season in a trade with the Los Angeles Clippers. Although Cleveland was probably not the destination Davis had in mind, he played hard, seemed to embrace a leadership role and put any past problems between he and Cavs coach Byron Scott behind. The pair had a falling out when Davis played for Scott in New Orleans.
”We would like to thank Baron for his contributions to the team during his time in Cleveland,” said general manager Chris Grant. ”He has been an absolute professional since the day he joined the Cavs and we now wish him the best in the future.”
Davis’ release had been expected since the opening of training camp past week. Scott gave a strong clue that Davis’ time was running out when the coach said he — and not Davis — was the perfect mentor for Irving.
”I’m going to miss Cleveland fans and the organization!” Davis wrote on his Twitter page. ”When I was down and out you believed in me and embraced me! I will always be a Cav!”
With Davis gone, Scott can immediately turn his offense over to Irving, the former Duke standout who wound up with Cleveland after Grant acquired Davis and an unprotected lottery pick from the Clippers for guard Mo Williams and forward Jamario Moon. That pick ended up being the one that got the Cavs the first selection.
Davis averaged 13.9 points and 6.1 assists in 15 games with the Cavs last season. He missed time because of injuries and a family death, but when he was in the lineup Cleveland went 6-9.
The 32-year-old hadn’t practiced since arriving at camp because of a bulging disc in his back. Davis left the team last weekend to get a second opinion on the injury. He’s now a free agent and should draw interest from other teams if he’s healthy.