Mo Williams, Jamario Moon excited
Now that they're out of Cleveland, they're dancing between the raindrops.
Williams and Moon were overjoyed to join their new team Friday, leaving the woeful Cavaliers in a trade for point guard Baron Davis.
"I'm definitely excited," said Williams, an All-Star in 2009. "This is a great opportunity for me. I can pull out the short-sleeve shirts right now. You can't tell me it's raining. You can't tell me this is bad weather."
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Most NBA players in recent history wouldn't consider it an upgrade to join the Clippers, likely headed to their 17th losing season in the past 18 years.
But after riding the Cleveland roller coaster from the heights of last season to the depths of this winter's 26-game losing streak -- which ended two weeks ago with a win over the Clippers -- Williams feels re-energized by the chance to throw alley-oops to rookie All-Star Blake Griffin.
"It was great in Cleveland, I was happy to be there, but this is a great opportunity for me," said Moon, a defensive stopper who is eligible for free agency after the season. "It's tough on them over there, but we've got to get over that and on with us."
Neither player could suit up for Friday night's game against the Lakers because Davis hasn't taken his physical yet for the Cavs. They're both hoping to play against the Boston Celtics on Saturday, but coach Vinny Del Negro thinks it's more likely they'll debut Monday night at Sacramento.
The Clippers, 21-37 before Friday's game, will almost certainly miss the playoffs for the 16th time in 18 seasons after an injury-plagued campaign. Yet Williams and Moon see ample reason for optimism while joining Griffin, shooting guard Eric Gordon and a talented young roster.
"I didn't think [the Clippers] were far off this year," Williams said. "I'm a fan of the NBA, and I always liked this basketball team. I'd say, 'Man, the Clippers are scary. You don't know what you're going to get out of them, but this team can be really good.'"
And though Williams and Moon had high praise for Cleveland and general manager Chris Grant, it's clear they're looking forward to more than just the L.A. weather after leaving the Cavaliers, who beat New York on Friday for their NBA-worst 11th win.
Williams isn't entirely new to the West Coast, either. He owns a home in suburban San Diego with his wife, and his ebullient personality seems tailor-made for Hollywood.
"Obviously, she's ecstatic," Williams said. "My wife was like, 'That's why I stuck it out with you.' I appreciate the Clippers for keeping my marriage together."
Williams and Moon went to dinner on Thursday night with Del Negro and general manager Neil Olshey, discussing their roles and futures. Del Negro echoes Williams' belief he can make Griffin's life easier by spacing the floor against teams that must respect the point guard's offensive game.
"That's a big part of it, getting guys that want to be here," Del Negro said. "We're always trying to put the ball in guys' hands that can make the game easier. We have to play at a better tempo. We're not playing at pace, and that's one thing Mo can help us with."
Williams gave up his player option to terminate his contract this summer, guaranteeing he'll stick with the Clippers for at least another year. Although injuries have limited him to 36 games this season, Williams believes he'll complement Griffin even better than he meshed with LeBron James.
"[Griffin] is humble, and he's working extremely hard to get better," Williams said. "That's all the same qualities that LeBron has. ... LeBron has to handle the ball a lot, and I adjusted my game to make it easier on him. With Blake, I can talk to him and get him in good situations."
The remaining Clippers seemed disappointed to lose Davis, but intrigued by the arrival of Williams. Gordon is making progress in his comeback from an injured wrist, and he hopes to play next week -- hopefully alongside his new teammates Monday.
"It's tough to get traded in the middle of the season, but it's not a bad thing going from freezing Cleveland and winning 10 games to going to L.A.," Clippers center Chris Kaman said. "They probably couldn't wait to get on the plane."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press