Cavaliers bounce Ricky Davis to Celtics in six-player deal

By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer

CLEVELAND (AP) - With the losses quickly piling up, the Cleveland Cavaliers had to shake up their roster by trading one of their most talented players.

Ricky Davis was also their most troublesome.

Cleveland sent the enigmatic guard to the Boston Celtics on Monday in a six-player deal that the struggling Cavs (6-18) hope can make them better right away.

In addition, the Cavs dealt forwards Chris Mihm and Michael Stewart to the Celtics for forwards Eric Williams, Tony Battie and center Kedrick Brown.

The swap also includes Cleveland giving the Celtics back a second-round pick it received from Boston in a trade last summer.

"This isn't a knee-jerk reaction to us having to get rid of Ricky," Cleveland general manager Jim Paxson said. "We had to do something we thought would help us."

Davis' departure ends his rocky relationship with first-year Cleveland coach Paul Silas, who appreciated the 6-foot-7 swingman's skills but didn't like his attitude.

"The new guys will help us win games," Silas said. "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."

The Cavs are counting on Williams and Battie -- two solid defenders with playoff experience -- to help take some pressure off rookie star LeBron James.

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

The trade came a few hours before Cleveland played Indiana, leaving the Cavs with just nine players to face the powerful Pacers, whose 95-85 win was Cleveland's 34th straight road loss.

Before the season, many wondered if Davis would be able to coexist with Silas and James. Publicly all three parties said there were no problems, but privately there were issues.

Still, after being traded, Davis went to James' hotel room to say goodbye and wish the No. 1 draft pick good luck.

"We were a lot closer than anybody else thought," James said. "He helped me a lot. Everybody else thought we wouldn't get along, but for the most part, we did."

Was Davis a bad influence?

"That's not true," James said.

Paxson had trade talks with several teams this season about Davis, a prolific scorer who has butted heads with coaches and teammates throughout his career.

The five-year veteran had a breakout season in 2002-03, leading Cleveland in scoring with 20.2 points, assists, steals, minutes and 3-point percentage.

But Davis was unable shake his reputation as a selfish player.

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 to get a rebound that he thought could give him his first career triple-double.

The Celtics are hoping a fresh start will inspire Davis.

"I think he's a fantastic talent," said Danny Ainge, Boston's director of basketball operations, 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."

Mihm, in the final year of his contract, was just beginning to blossom into a solid player for the Cavs.

The former first-round pick has played extremely well in a limited role. The 7-footer will help Boston immediately, with center Raef LaFrentz currently sidelined with a knee injury.

This is Ainge's second big trade, having sent Antoine Walker and Tony Delk to Dallas in October for LaFrentz, swingman Jiri Welsch, forward Chris Mills and a first-round draft pick.

For the Cavs, the key to the deal is Williams, a 6-foot-8 defensive specialist who was developing into one of the league's best sixth men in Boston. He's in the final year of his contract for $5.5 million.

Battie, who has three years and $14.4 million left on his deal, is averaging 5.9 points and 5.1 rebounds off the bench.

Brown was the 11th overall pick in the 2001 draft, but hasn't played much and is averaging just 5.2 points and 3.2 rebounds in limited minutes.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)