For Big Baby, ain’t nothing but a G League thing
Glen Davis isn’t above playing in the development league to get back to the NBA
LOS ANGELES — Bus rides and economy class on commercial planes. A salary of $25,000. Motels on occasion instead of hotels. Games played in small venues in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Fort Wayne, Indiana; Lakeland, Florida; Erie, Pennsylvania; and Reno, Nevada.
Playing in the NBA’s development league, now the G League, is a far cry from what Glen Davis was used to when he played in the league for eight seasons and won a title with the Boston Celtics in 2008. But to get back to the NBA after two years removed, the veteran forward is willing to go the G League route and commit to everything that comes with it.
“I want to play. That’s my next step,” the 31-year-old Davis said. “Whatever I have to do to show I can play the game at a high level still and help a team win, I will do. I know it’s going to be a process because I haven’t played in two years. But I feel like I’m at the prime in my game and I still have a lot to offer.
“I am considering the G League. It’s a great opportunity to show all 30 teams that I can play without getting hurt. They can see what I can still do. This is the best opportunity to make my steps back to the NBA.”
The big man nicknamed “Big Baby” didn’t have to take baby steps when he first entered the NBA as a second-round pick out of Louisiana State University in 2007.
Davis was a key role player for the Celtics, averaging 4.5 points and 3.0 rebounds in 13.6 minutes per game as a rookie during the 2007-08 season. The 6-foot-9 forward played just 15 minutes during the NBA Finals as the Celtics won their first title since 1986, beating the Los Angeles Lakers in six games after veteran P.J. Brown and Leon Powe took most of the reserve big-man minutes. During the Celtics’ championship parade, the mammoth Davis garnered laughs and smiles from the fans as he danced with his shirt off on a Boston Duck Tour boat.
“Man, how time flies and how fun it was. I remember taking my shirt off during the parade and going crazy, having a good time. I look forward to the day of that reunion,” Davis said.
Davis and the Celtics returned to the NBA Finals in 2010 but lost to the Lakers in seven games. The changing of the guard began after that Finals loss.
On Feb. 24, 2011, the Celtics traded starting center Kendrick Perkins and guard Nate Robinson to the Oklahoma City Thunder for forward Jeff Green and center Nenad Krstic. Ray Allen next caused a huge stir by turning down an offer to re-sign with Boston so he could join LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the NBA champion Miami Heat during the summer of 2012. Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and point guard Rajon Rondo were upset that Allen did not tell them himself that he was departing for the rival Heat, creating a rift that exists to this day.
Allen won a championship with Miami in 2013, while Pierce, Garnett and Rondo never got back to the Finals with Boston before eventually being traded. Garnett, Pierce, Allen, Rondo, Perkins and Davis engaged in a discussion last May about why they haven’t reconciled with Allen during one of Garnett’s “Area 21” Turner Sports television segments. Rondo also told The Undefeated last season that his old Celtics teammates planned on having an overseas trip celebrating the 2008 NBA title, but that Allen was not invited.
The coldness toward Allen, however, began to thaw with Pierce’s recent Instagram post saying they need to “get the band back together.” Looking back, Davis understands why Allen departed in 2012.
“My whole take on it is, hey, we know when we lost in 2010 that things were different,” Davis said. “It mentally changed our team, and it started to break from there. We saw it. ‘Perk’ got traded, and then things really got different. Ray just sensed before everyone else that it was over with and things were changing.
“People knowing Ray and how he is and how awesome he is expected him to be the guy to say, ‘Hey, I’m leaving,’ instead of leaving [without warning]. That is how it basically is. Ray saw the signs on the wall and just got out of there before everyone else did.”
Despite Pierce’s plea to reunite, Garnett and Rondo have been adamant about their disdain for Allen. Allen has also expressed displeasure toward some of his former Celtics teammates and the organization. Celtics spokesman Jeff Twiss told The Undefeated that the franchise is leaning toward a spring celebration of the 10-year anniversary and a date could be nailed down during meetings later this month.
Davis joins in hoping that the relationship with Allen can be mended before the Celtics celebrate the 2008 NBA championship next year.
“That’s Paul Pierce. He has his point on the way he feels. I think it’s a good thing,” Davis said. “Nothing bad. He’s like, ‘Hey, everyone should get together and get rid of the [past drama] because we are a team.’ I would love to [reconcile]. It would be fun. I understand both sides, especially the way this game is. There are opportunities everywhere. I’d like to see the gang get back together.”
Davis has played in 514 NBA games with a career average of 8.0 points and 4.4 rebounds with the Celtics, Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Clippers. He averaged career highs of 15.1 points and 7.2 rebounds during the 2012-13 season with the Magic. On Dec. 3, 2013, he recorded a career-high 33 points in a double-overtime loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Injuries first stymied Davis when he had Jones fracture surgery on his left foot in 2013. In September 2015, he had surgery to repair ligaments in his left ankle while also having a cyst and bone spurs removed. He said he broke his ankle in Game 6 of the Clippers’ first-round playoff series against the San Antonio Spurs in 2015.
Davis was supposed to be out two to three months after the ankle surgery in 2015. The free agent was getting interest from the Clippers and Dallas Mavericks at the time. He has not played since.
“Mentally, just when the injury happened, it put me in a setback,” Davis said. “Timing. When the [ankle surgery] happened, it was right before the season. I missed the whole season. I just wanted to feel better to the point where I could just move my feet. With me being a big guy, something that was one of my best attributes was being able to move my feet real fast. I wanted to be able to move my feet. It just took time to get there.
“I had issues with the two surgeries I had. I broke the fifth metatarsal in my foot and I broke my ankle. I was just trying to get back to a point where I had no pain. That’s what I wanted to feel first. Now I’m here where I can run, cut.”
Davis said his left ankle, foot and entire body are “100 percent” and he does not feel pain after workouts. The Baton Rouge, Louisiana, native is now 315 pounds and hopes to drop to 295 pounds by the time he returns to action. He is playing basketball full court while working out primarily in Los Angeles. While Davis already had a solid midrange jumper, he says, he is now confident shooting the 3-pointer, which is a must for stretch forwards in the NBA.
Mentally and physically, Davis said, he is ready to join the G League.
“I can do everything. I’m playing pickup. Working out. Running,” Davis said. “I’m doing a lot of sand work. I’m getting the small muscles back in my foot. I’m shooting a lot of 3s. I am working on a lot of things in my game that I never really had a chance to work on being a role player.
“I want to play. That’s my next step. Whatever I go out there to do to show I can play the game at a high level still and help a team win, I will do. I know it’s going to be a process because I haven’t played in two years. But I feel like I’m at the prime in my game and I still have a lot to offer.”
Davis’ Celtics teammate Brian Scalabrine said on SiriusXM radio on Sept. 15 that he believes Davis has the talent to return to the NBA but that his outspokenness might turn off teams. Davis said last season that Los Angeles Clippers guard Austin Rivers received preferential treatment from his father, ex-Celtics coach and current Clippers head coach Doc Rivers. Austin Rivers and Davis had a war of words afterward on television and the internet. Davis also is known for having a great personality that has been showcased on Fox Sports 1, Turner Sports and the SEC Network, and he plans to continue doing television once he is done playing basketball professionally.
Asked about Scalabrine’s comments, Davis said with a laugh: “Tell my man thanks for the love.”
Davis and former NBA forward-center Elton Brand had their share of battles on the hardwood during their NBA careers. Brand recently was named the general manager of the G League’s Delaware 87ers. Brand said he would have interest in signing or drafting Davis if the opportunity presented itself. Having Davis could be a box-office draw, a roster boost and veteran presence for a G League team.
“If that’s true that he wants to return to the NBA, my belief is the G League is the best way to show it,” Brand said. “It shows that you are hungry. A lot of the G League teams are trying to run the same sets offensively and defensively that they are running in the NBA. That is a great thing.
“[Davis] was tough. He can hit the midrange shot. I worked out with him one summer, and he definitely has 3-point range. He is a champion who has hit big shots. I would absolutely consider him.”
If Davis could go back in time to talk to a young “Big Baby,” he would tell him to truly “appreciate these moments” being in the NBA.
“Going back to my rookie year winning a championship, you don’t really think about what you’ve really done until years after,” Davis said. “You could have appreciated it a little bit more. Just moments. Just life lessons. Making the right decisions. Things like that.
“Being out of the game so long, you appreciate what the NBA offers. I thought about it my whole life growing up that I wanted to go to the NBA and be a part of it. There have been so many doors that it’s opened. Just the people I’ve met, the unity of the brand itself and what comes with it. You miss everything about it. I want to go back.”