Cavs part with Davis in 3-for-3 trade

Updated: December 16, 2003, 7:48 AM ET news services

Celtics director of basketball operations Danny Ainge has been promising for months that he was going to fill the scoring void left when he traded Antoine Walker to Dallas.

Dr. Jack on the Cavaliers-Celtics trade
Dr. Jack RamsayWhen I spoke with Cavaliers coach Paul Silas and GM Jim Paxson last week, they told me they wanted to acquire some veteran leadership for their young team. That's what prompted this trade for the Cavs.

Eric Williams, who goes to Cleveland, is a team leader. He has a strong work ethic and a great locker-room presence. There are no numbers to measure these qualities, but Boston will miss them while they pay dividends for the Cavs. Williams' intangibles are Boston's greatest loss.

For Boston, the key to the trade is Ricky Davis. He gives Boston another certifiable scorer after Paul Pierce. The Celtics have been hard-pressed to find another scorer after the trade of Antoine Walker, and Davis can be that guy.

Davis has star potential, but the challenge for Celtics coach Jim O'Brien will be to help Davis produce consistently. If he can, Boston wins in this trade. Still, O'Brien will need to use all his coaching skills to harness Davis' potential. Davis can score, run the floor and create opportunities for teammates.

I expect Eric Williams to have a positive influence on young players like rookie phenom Lebron James and veterans alike. Williams' hard work in practice and in games will inspire a better effort on defense and in the rebounding department.

As far as the other players in the deal, Cleveland gets Tony Battie and Kedrick Brown. Battie has not played well this season, while Brown is still playing like a rookie in his third year. He has athletic ability, though, so if Silas gets him to lift his game, Brown could help the Cavs.

Boston gets Chris Mihm and Michael Stewart. The 7-foot Mihm is a shot-blocking presence who can score when needed. He hasn't gotten consistent minutes, but he should get a chance to play for the Celtics. Stewart, meanwhile, is a role player who bangs inside and plays hard.
-- ESPN's Dr. Jack Ramsay

Ainge apparently has made that move.

The Celtics and Cavaliers on Monday have agreed to a trade that will send Ricky Davis, Chris Mihm and Michael Stewart to Boston for Eric Williams, Tony Battie and Kedrick Brown.

"I think [Davis is] a fantastic talent," said Ainge, who envisions Davis as a nice scoring complement to Paul Pierce. "He's a young man that has grown up, I believe, in the last little while and has some things to prove in his career."

The Cavs also will send a second-round pick, which they acquired from the Celtics in the Jumaine Jones trade this summer, back to Boston.

"The new guys will help us win games over the long term, certainly," said Cavs coach Silas, who is in his first season with Cleveland.

"The atmosphere will change, and it had to. We needed some veteran men who have been in a winning situation, that's the main thing."

Davis is a scoring machine but has bumped heads with Silas. Silas coached Davis as a rookie in Charlotte and the two didn't get along, and Silas has grown frustrated with Davis' lack of defensive effort this season.

The trade gives the Cavs three solid defenders to surround LeBron James. In addition, Cleveland creates extra cap flexibility next summer when Williams' contract comes off the books.

"We wanted to add some veterans around him so he doesn't have to shoulder it alone," Cavs general manager Jim Paxson said.

The Celtics get a player capable of scoring 20 points a game in Davis as well as big man Mihm, who is playing the best basketball of his career.

The Cavaliers (6-17) took a 33-game road losing streak into their game at the Indiana Pacers on Monday night. The Celtics play host to Minnesota.

Cleveland had talks with several teams this season about trading Davis, who is averaging 15.3 points this season, third on the Cavaliers behind rookie LeBron James (17.7) and Zydrunas Ilgauskas (15.7). Davis had a breakout season in 2002-03, leading Cleveland in scoring (20.2 points), assists, steals, minutes and 3-point percentage.

Fantasy spin on Cavaliers-Celtics trade
Not only does this look like a great trade for the Celtics, but for fantasy owners who own the new Celtics, it could help greatly. While Ricky Davis was the No. 3 scorer on Cleveland, it should be easy for him to be second only to Paul Pierce in Boston. Davis shouldn't see any dip in his stats (15, 5 and 5); in fact, he should score more now, maybe close to 20 a night. But this is big news for Mihm. Stuck behind Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Carlos Boozer as a reserve, Mihm might be Boston's starting center now, and get the 30 minutes a night he demands. Is he a good player? Well, the jury is still out, but now he gets the opportunity. Mihm last scored double digits seven games ago, but he hasn't stopped rebounding, as he had 10 against Detroit a few games ago. He can block shots, too. Don't be shocked to see Mihm start getting big minutes and producing near double-doubles consistently.
-- Eric Karabell
However, Davis was unable to shake his reputation as a selfish player who looks to shoot first. His me-before-the-team attitude reached its peak during a game against Utah last season, when Davis intentionally missed a shot at his own basket to try and get a rebound that he thought could give him his first career triple-double.

Silas periodically benched the swingman this season and banished him from the team for a few days before allowing him to rejoin the team.

Silas seemed to be getting through to Davis, who had 15 points, nine rebounds and five assists in a win over Detroit last week. But in a loss Saturday night to the Celtics, Davis scored three points on 1-for-5 shooting in 32 minutes.

The additions of Williams, Battie and Brown will help the Cavs defensively, and should rid Silas of a headache. However, the team will have to turn elsewhere for scoring until they get guard DaJuan Wagner back from an injury.

Mihm, a former first-round pick (No. 7 overall), has played extremely well in a limited role this season for Cleveland, which had been patiently waiting for the 7-footer to develop.

The 6-foot-10 Stewart, in the final year of a six-year, $24 million deal he signed with Toronto, was averaging just 10 minutes per game for Cleveland.

Ainge has been emphasizing an uptempo offense since taking over in May. This is Ainge's second big trade, having sent Walker and Tony Delk to Dallas in October for center Raef LaFrentz, swingman Jiri Welsch, forward Chris Mills and a first-round draft pick.

Williams, 31, is in his ninth NBA season and was one of Boston's top defenders. He spent his first two seasons as a pro with Boston, the next two with Denver and returned to Boston for the 1999-00 season. He was the Celtics' third-leading scorer, averaging 11.6 points with 4.5 rebounds.

Battie, 27, has been hobbled by knee injuries this season. The No. 5 overall pick by Denver in the 1997 draft is averaging 5.9 points and 5.1 rebounds.

Brown, 22, was drafted with the 11th pick of the 2001 draft after two seasons at Okaloosa-Walton Community College. At 6-foot-7, he has been praised for his athleticism but has been a disappointment for the Celtics.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.