The trade deadline came and went and as expected, the Orlando Magic stood firm with the players they already had. Making a trade didn’t make any sense, as the team is in a good position in terms of cap space and the extremely young roster it has on its books. Somewhat surprisingly however, the Magic did buy power forward Glen Davis out of his contract, allowing him to leave the team. Early indications are that he will sign with the Los Angeles Clippers, but we’ll get to what he can bring to another team in a minute. First though, we must look and see if this was a dud move, or an inspired one.
Before leaving the Magic, Davis, who was somewhat of a cult hero to some fans for his passionate and unique style of play, was averaging 12.1 points and 6.3 rebounds. Decent numbers, but it was his off-court antics that had garnered the most media attention so far this season. An altercation in an Orlando motel early in the season had him in the headlines for all the wrong reasons and this little outburst gave the public a brief insight into what the 28-year-old could be like. As mentioned, his on-court play was useful to the Magic, but in the locker room, the attitude of Davis may have been beginning to infiltrate the young impressionable minds of some of the potential-filled youngsters. We can’t know this for certain; however, we do know it is always better to move players like this along, rather than keep them and see what happens next. The Washington Wizards would be recent proof that clearing a locker room of “knuckleheads”–albeit talented ones–will ultimately result in success in the long run, which is what is currently happening to that Wizards team. Davis has never been close to a star in this league, not even during his Boston Celtics days, but he has always been a reliable contributor who could fill a couple of positions and Orlando will miss that versatility. Letting him go, however, is but the next step in the revival of this franchise.
We won’t see any large changes overnight, but the one true beneficiary of letting Big Baby walk will be Tobias Harris. On Sunday, in a loss to the Toronto Raptors in Canada, Harris scored 28 of the Magic’s 90 points. That is a massive contribution and Davis isn’t even gone a week! By freeing up more minutes and allowing more plays to go through the 21-year-old, he will blossom at a much quicker rate than if Davis had stuck around. Make no mistake either, Harris has serious potential and putting their trust in him as their power forward of the future will have done his confidence the world of good as well. Already he can arguably do more on the court than his former teammate. Like most good players who play the 4 position these days, Harris can stretch the floor and has a lovely stroke on his jump shot. He is really quite athletic as well, and can get up above the rim too. This season he was averaging more rebounds (8.3) than Davis anyway and that was while they were sharing some minutes. Davis can shoot the ball, but it is an awkward looking creation. His hustle and heart have never been in question and Orlando will miss that. But really at this point, it looks like a great move for the team as it goes forward and gets younger and more athletic in the process. But if letting him go appears to have been a no-brainer that will allow this team to grow, who would then want to pick him up?
Wherever Davis lands, and of course he will find a destination, he would be best suited to coming off the bench for a contender. He was hardly a game-changing factor for the 2008 NBA champion Celtics, but he was a nice player off the bench. When Kevin Garnett went to the pine for a break, it was that unique play of Davis that allowed him to get key rebounds and putbacks for the team down the stretch of games. His football-like build meant opposing teams weren’t really sure how best to keep him quiet and he may them pay at times for this. These days teams know what they are coming up against when they take to the floor against Davis and some would even say he is overweight from time to time when playing. Whatever shape he is in though, he would not be the missing link the Clippers are looking for should he end up there. A nice addition for sure, but in the same way Stephen Jackson and Hedo Turkoglu were meant to be the final piece to push them over the top before revealing themselves not to be, Davis will fit in and do a job, but nothing more. As a part of a second unit however, he would be a success for the Clippers, especially with both Jamal Crawford and Darren Collison a part of that second unit as well.
Fans of the Magic will quickly forget about Davis as this teams moves into the future, but it shouldn’t be forgotten that he gave his all every time he took to the court for the team. Off-court antics and personal fitness aside, he will be missed around the team as he appeared to be a bit of a character who had the ability to bring a smile to people’s faces. His on-court play wasn’t so bad either, and so most will wish him all the best wherever he ends up. Focus will switch quickly to Tobias Harris though, as the stage is now set for him to have a breakout campaign next year.