Baron Davis wants to stay a Clipper, doesn't want a trade

Kelly Dwyer

Of course Baron Davis(notes) doesn't want to be traded. He's playing in his hometown of Los Angeles, if not for his hometown team, and he's already let the entire Clipper nation down. If he gets traded to any other outpost, he has to go about the business of letting another fan base down, all over again. Even Davis doesn't have faith enough in his game, his head, those knees and that back to want to go through that another time.

So he's telling the truth when he lets it be known that, sure, he'd like to stay a Clipper. From Chris Tomasson at FanHouse:

"It's tough because it's the nature of the business,'' Davis said in an interview with FanHouse before the Clippers' 108-103 win over Phoenix on Sunday about the trade rumors surrounding him. "But it's tough because I don't want to leave. I'm here. I came here for a reason. If I were to be traded, I just think that I just never really got a chance to do what I was signed here to do.''

Davis, a native of Los Angeles, signed a five-year $65 million contract as a free agent in the summer of 2008 with his hometown team.

"I just look at it like you brought me here and you got to give me an opportunity,'' said Davis, who is averaging just 8.8 points and 6.3 assists, the lowest numbers since his rookie season of 1999-2000. He has battled a left knee injury and claims by Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro that he didn't report to training camp in proper shape.

It is tough, because Baron Davis made it tough. Even though he scuttled the last two games of his Golden State career with some poor off-court choices, he also played all 82 games in his contract year of 2007-08, before signing a massive maximum deal with the Clippers in the summer of 2008 that is paying him $65 million over five years, nearly all of it guaranteed.

As soon as he suited up in Los Angeles, it was clear that Davis was out of shape, and not really too concerned about it. Hell, even with 27 games left in his first season with the Clips, he was telling Bill Simmons about how he was going to turn it all around in the next season -- as opposed to actually working extra hard to get into shape and play sound basketball for the final two months of the season you're currently in.

He did improve the next season, it should be noted, but still took nearly four 3-pointers a game in just 33.6 minutes a contest, despite just a 27.7 mark from behind the arc. And a few months ago? Yes, he showed up to Clippers camp out of shape, and his 31-year-old body broke down because of it. He's not the world's most selfish player (among healthy rotation players on Los Angeles, Davis is third in shots taken per minute), but he is far, far below average (once you factor in defense) and making huge gobs of money.

But to Baron, it can all get better. He points to last winter as a time when it all went wrong:

"This is the first year I've been here where we haven't had any trades,'' said Davis, making $13.05 million this season. "The first year (2008-09) they wiped the whole roster clean after seven games (Zach Randolph(notes) was the primary piece acquired after the 11th game in a deal in which the Clippers dispatched Cuttino Mobley(notes) and Tim Thomas(notes)).

"... Last year, we were right there and then they dismantled the team (referring to trades of Marcus Camby(notes) and Al Thornton(notes)). For me, it's like it hasn't been a real stable situation."

Guy, you weren't "right there" at 21-32, 11 games below .500, when the Clippers traded Camby and Thornton. And while the Clippers aren't exactly batting 1.000 in terms of personnel maneuvers, the team is still reeling from the fact that it thought it had acquired an all-world superstar in Davis, paid him the representative sum, and then watched as it all went wrong.

The lucky break for Davis in this instance is the idea that nobody, outside of the hopeless Charlotte Bobcats, really wants to take him on. With more than half of this year's $13 million in salary left to pay him alongside the $26.15 million he's owed (taking away the non-guaranteed bits) over the next two seasons, he's become one of the league's great millstones. And millstones usually only get traded for other millstones. And the Washington Wizards and Orlando Magic already traded their millstones for each other.

But this is what Baron has done, for the longest time. He's tried to wish it true, and hope for the best, instead of actually working toward making things true. If you really get into the guy's career -- the rookie season clashes with Paul Silas, a benching in favor of David Wesley, the weight issues, the clashes with Hornets management as to how he would work off that weight, the careless play in New Orleans, the 3-pointers (six per game, at a 31.5 percent success rate) that Mike Montgomery couldn't stop him from taking in Golden State, and his last season with the Warriors that saw Don Nelson bench Davis in the Warriors' most important game -- you'd understand that this is just how he works. He was great in 2006-07, we all saw it and loved it to pieces, but beyond that he's just nothing to rely upon.

This is why his holiday wish will come true. Unless some team terribly botches something, Baron Davis will stay a Clipper.