I don't actually expect 50% of the people posting to read this and pay attention, but to save some time for rebuttals to the numerous "we shouldas" that are going to flood in.
1 "We shoulda made that Detroit trade [Baron and anyone for Billups and Wallace]"
reality: No such trade ever existed or was ever possible. Baron was not a tradeable commodity as his opt out clause made trades contractually illegal *unless* he was willing to officially waive his opt-out. That wasn't going to happen, so we couldn't have traded him.
2 "If he opted out earlier, we could have used the TE."
reality: Using the TE would have been stupid if we knew he was going to opt out. If we had used the TE, we'd have less cap space at this point to pursue other options. It would be reduced by whatever price we paid to a guy with the TE. Sure, we'd have whatever player we got with the TE, but nothing prevents us from using the cap space to get that same player now. This situation is better in that we're not limited by the $10mil top dollar that the TE had *and* we're not limited to acquiring players in trades. Cap space is more valuable than a TE.
3 "If we knew he was opting out, we coulda drafted a point guard."
reality: this is true, but this draft wasn't exactly rich in point guards to draft. Rose wasn't available. The point guards available would have required a trade up and/or were combo guards (e.g. Augustin, Westbrook, Bayless). The solutions weren't there in the draft to replace Baron. We might have gone after a second rounder at the point, but that's not a solution either. Odds of a second rounder being able to do more than come in as a limited minute backup is low. We'd be in more or less the same position had we gone after Chalmers or someone similar. This could be marginally better, but only marginally. More likely we'd simply have a worthless point guard instead of Hendrix. Evaluate that as you see fit.
4 "The timing screwed us"
reality: the timing didn't matter. Only thing that could have changed with the timing is that Mullin could have made a lousy trade with the TE in panic that would leave us in the same position now, but without as much cap room.
5 "We shoulda done <fill in the blank> before <fill in the blank>
reality: this was about money. The Clippers were wiling to invest money in Davis. They're willing to take the gamble on the back end of the deal. They may not be as scared of another 50 game season from Baron when he's making $15mil a season to rehab his knees/back. Yes, this will hurt the Warriors in that we won't have him. But there's a real equation that has to be made. I'm not sure that there's a right answer; There's certainly not a simple answer, but the only way Baron was going to come back here was if the offer on the table was for more cash.
So here's where things stand:
A: We're going to have cap room, somewhere between $10 and $20 million depending on where the cap is set, what we decide to do with Pietrus and the POB (and perhaps Perovic heading home on a buyout). That's money to go shopping. Contracts are coming for Ellis and Biedrins but they'll be signed late because their cap holds are low (especially for Ellis) relative to what they're likely to get. The biggest worry is another team swooping in and offering them something we'd have to match, as an offer sheet signed means the cap hold is replaced with the offer sheet dollars.
[Fantasy Junkie, if you're reading this. My fiendish strategy to screw the Warriors was for them to offer a contract to Ellis, forcing us to match so we'd have reduced cap room once Davis left. It wasn't guaranteed to get them Davis, but it was guaranteed to either lose Davis or Ellis, likely without cap room, or push into lux tax territory. It's all about business, but I suspect that such a move would have been nasty enough that the fraternity of owners would have frowned that sort of move out of existance.]
B: There aren't point guards on the market (save perhaps Gil) worth that sort of change, so that hole needs to be filled through trade. Trades don't have to have the salaries match though because we've got cap space.
C: Were I Rowell/Mullin/Cohan, I'd look into tampering to see if the Clippers made an under the table deal with Ramasar/Davis ahead of the opt out. Seems like everyone was covering their ass (e.g. texting that he wanted to stay, LAC saying they wanted to keep Mags) but what the hell, so long as he's going to make it all about business, make it all about business and make sure that the business was on the up and up by the rules. He ain't coming back, but wouldn't it be great if we could screw over the Clips and Davis? Yeah, long shot, but I'm feeling spiteful this morning.