It’s no secret that Baron Davis has had his share of ups and downs in his NBA career. He now finds himself in a precarious situation for the Los Angeles Clippers and things aren’t looking good. The former NBA All-Star is on a team where youth and energy seem to be the desired trait in it’s players.
Davis isn’t washed up by any means. He’s still a very skilled player, but his carelessness in the past may be catching up to him. He’s been criticized for being out of shape and not taking his game seriously enough. On this Clippers team, that just won’t work.
Davis was not in the Clippers lineup on Wednesday night because of a knee injury when the previously winless Clippers downed the Oklahoma City Thunder. The two teams seemed to switch roles in this game, as it was the Clippers who played with more energy and excitement. Rookie point guard Eric Bledsoe started in place of Davis and he looked like a much better fit in this system. He finished the game with 17 points and eight assists.
It’s way too early in Bledsoe’s career to know if he can do that every night, but on Wednesday, he looked like the perfect piece to the puzzle at point guard. He’s fast, really fast. He’s young, really young. Davis has lost a step and is 31; you tell me which player makes more sense in the Clippers long-term plans.
One thing the Clippers need to decide is whether they’re playing for an average season now or a great season down the road. Of course, Davis isn’t in the Clippers long term plans, but he may give them the best chance to win now. Last night, it didn’t seem that way, but we need to see more of Bledsoe to accurately assess that.
The Clippers may want to take a page out of the Thunder’s playbook. The Thunder handed the reins over to Russell Westbrook early in his career despite some criticism. Sure, he made a lot of mistakes along the way, but he had a up and coming star, Kevin Durant, next to him to take over when he needed to. He wasn’t forced to take shots or force the issue even though he did at times. He simply had to adjust to the speed of the game and pick his spots.
Bledsoe is playing next to an up and coming star as well in Eric Gordon. Gordon and Bledsoe seem to mesh well, along with Blake Griffin, who is probably the future face of the franchise.
At this point, it seems to make more sense for the Clippers to trade Davis to a contender who needs help at point guard in return for a draft pick or two. This will allow Bledsoe to get a solid year of experience under his belt, as well as load up the team with future picks to add more young, high energy players to their roster. Let’s face it, the Clippers are not going to be a championship contender this year, so why not allow your young talent to blossom together, instead of throwing an aging, lazy point guard in the mix to mess up team chemistry.
This brings us back to Davis. He seemingly doesn’t fit on this team, and his trade value is more important to the franchise than what he can do for the team this year. He’s not the leader of the team. Gordon is taking over that role more and more everyday. Is Davis going to be okay taking orders from a 21 year old? Granted, no 31 year old former All-Star would feel comfortable taking orders from a 21 year old up and coming star, but Davis may be the one guy that would hate it the most.
Gordon answered questions about both Bledsoe and Davis last night, and he was much more excited to talk about Bledsoe. When asked about Bledsoe’s performance, Gordon said, ”I like the way he plays. He’s running full speed the whole game. He brings us a lot of energy. He pushes the ball. He really changes the game.”
When asked whether or not the team was better without Davis in the lineup, Gordon responded, “We’re not looking for anything negative. When he plays, he can help us. We know he’s a good player. We know he can help.” Notice he says Bledsoe is a game changer and that Davis simply can help.
Of course Gordon isn’t willing to cause controversy and throw Davis under the bus, but his candid answer didn’t do anything to assure anyone that he thinks Davis gives the Clippers a better chance to win.
Whether or not it’s being talked about yet, Davis’ days are numbered in Los Angeles. He doesn’t fit the system and the Clippers need to take the opportunity to enhance their future. Getting rid of Davis now makes complete sense for the direction the Clippers are headed in. The longer Davis stays, the less experience Bledsoe gets and the more stubborn the Clippers look. You heard it here first, Davis will be traded before this year’s trade deadline. Hopefully for the Clippers fans and organization, it will happen before the month’s end.