Amnesty rule could cloud Baron Davis' future
Baron Davis(notes) has played in the NBA for 12 seasons for four franchises, two of which traded him. So he's not naïve about the league's business. When the league's next collective bargaining agreement is finalized – provided it ever is – teams are expected to have the option of using an amnesty clause to waive a player and remove his contract from their salary cap.
And Davis knows the $28.7 million on the final two years of his contract – all but $1.9 million of which is guaranteed – makes him a possible amnesty candidate for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Especially with the Cavs having drafted point guard Kyrie Irving(notes) No. 1 overall in June.
"From all the reports and what my agent [Todd Ramasar] has been telling me, it's possible," said Davis, who would still be paid what he's owed if the Cavs used the amnesty clause on him. "Even more possible considering where I'm at in my career with my age and my salary. I'm not going to turn a naked eye to it. I understand that. This is a business and teams are trying to do what's best for them. Whatever comes my way, this is like a rebirth for me and an opportunity to start over and start new.
"When this lockout is over, wherever I'm at, I'm going to make myself an opportunity and do the best that I can as far as being a leader and a good basketball player. I feel like I have a whole lot to prove and that I have a whole lot left in my game."
Davis, 32, said he's healthy – and, like most players during the lockout, well-rested. If he's waived, he could be a good fit for a veteran contending team looking for an experienced point guard, like, say, the Miami Heat.
But what if the Cavaliers also don't want to rush Irving into what likely will be an abbreviated season? Irving, 19, played in only 11 games last season as a freshman at Duke because of a toe injury. Davis has already served as a mentor of sorts to Irving since they met at Irving's predraft workout in Cleveland. They've spoken weekly and spent time together in North Carolina for Chris Paul's(notes) charity game.
The Cavs could wait to use the amnesty clause on Davis. In the ongoing labor negotiations, teams would have the option to use the clause on a player in future seasons provided he was on their roster as of July 1, 2011. Or, the Cavs could also explore trading him.
Still, Davis doesn't sound like he'd be disappointed if he stayed in Cleveland. After struggling with the Los Angeles Clippers, he says he regained his confidence and had fun in Cleveland, averaging 13.9 points and 6.1 rebounds in 15 games with the Cavs. He also wouldn't mind the opportunity to play with Irving.
"He's humble and he has a chance to have an incredible future," Davis said of Irving. "And for someone like me who is in their 13th year who has been at the top and been at the bottom, inside and out, I feel like it's my duty to help him grow and equip him with all the information in the game that is going to really push him over the edge.
"For me being the older guy on the team, I can be a good extension of what the coach wants. But now I got a point guard I can rock with."
That's assuming the NBA eventually ends the lockout and reaches a new labor agreement with the players. Davis attended a couple of the players' labor meetings in New York, and talks between the union and owners resume on Saturday.
"It is kind of hard to be optimistic," Davis said. "I think the deal should have been done with the proposal that we offered. Just being in some of the meetings and seeing where things are, it doesn't seem like the owners are willing to bring something tangible to the table. But I definitely see a light at the end of the tunnel. I think [union president] Derek Fisher(notes) and [executive director] Billy Hunter are doing a great job so far."
Davis also thinks the players have conceded enough to the owners.
"If you're in business and you're telling me you're losing money, and then I say I am going to give you the money you are losing back, as well as a little bit more profit … and then you refuse me at a certain place – what am I bargaining against?" he said. "I just think it's unfair."
That hasn't stopped the players from absorbing much of the blame for the lockout.
"A lot of times we're getting the bulk of the finger-pointing," Davis said. "Friends who text me every other day are saying, 'Why don't you guys just take the deal?' First and foremost, it's the wellbeing of the multitude. There are over 400 guys our union represents from the highs and the lows. We have to make the right deal that benefits everybody.
"For the owners, there are 30 of them. Where our [revenue] percentages are and where their percentages are, it's not like there is something smart going on with these arguments in the percentage. No, it's like, 'We want more back into our pockets.' It's 30 versus 400. The guys who make up the league versus the guys paying the expenses.
"You're getting an opportunity to be profitable and you want more and more on top of that. But I think a lot of times in the media that messaging really gets misdirected and it looks like the players are the ones being greedy and the players are the ones not negotiating fairly, or we're the ones that are locking out. What the fans have to remember is the owners are locking us out because they're not happy with the current deal we were in."
If the lockout doesn't end in the next couple weeks, Davis is planning to hold a charity game in Los Angeles in mid-November and another later in San Francisco that features L.A. players against Bay Area players. He said he probably won't be attending a charity game in San Jose, Calif., on Saturday that has some current Golden State Warriors facing past players from the franchise's 2007 playoff team.
"Since there are so many pros in the Los Angeles area we have been thinking about doing stuff for the fans that supported us in high school and college," Davis said.
For now, charity games are all Davis and the rest of the NBA's players have to look forward to.
"Nobody's playing right now," he said. "Nobody's on a team. Everyone is amnesty until we get the lockout done."
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