GREENBURGH, N.Y. – Baron Davis considered retirement a few months ago and his stamina was so lacking Monday he “couldn’t play dead right now in a movie if I was asked to.”
Still, he knows what’s expected of him with the New York Knicks.
“There’s a lot of expectations, expectations that I’ve never had in my career,” Davis said. “But I’m up for the challenge.”
The Knicks’ season might depend on it.
Davis practised for the first time this season with the Knicks, who hope he can solve some of their offensive woes when he’s ready to play.
New York is desperate for better point guard play, and the 32-year-old Davis is a two-time all-star. But he’s not that player now after sitting out all season with a herniated disc in his back that he said was so troublesome he almost walked away late last year when he struggled just to move around while working out with his kids.
He complained about his conditioning and timing while scrimmaging, and his scouting report was as much bad as good.
“Made a lot of mistakes, was very rusty, I couldn’t play,” Davis said. “I didn’t play good, but a lot of like instinctual things were there.”
The Knicks signed Davis in December, knowing he couldn’t play for at least a month. Both he and coach Mike D’Antoni used the word “rusty” to describe Davis, and an offence that hasn’t been sharp didn’t magically start clicking once Davis put on his No. 85 practice jersey.
“The good is he’s back on the floor, and then start getting better. Wasn’t really good the whole execution, but that’s to be expected,” D’Antoni said. “You’re throwing a new piece in, it’s going to take a little while for him to get his mojo back or whatever it is and it’s going to take a while.”
The Knicks hope that can be sometime during their four-game road trip which begins Tuesday.
He’ll work out again before the game, then discuss his progress with the training staff. D’Antoni said he would like to get him in for short stints, but neither he nor Davis would offer a timetable.
“I think the best workout he can get is in a game,” D’Antoni said. “It’s hard to simulate what it’s really like.
“We can go this a little bit, but at a certain point he’s got to get back in there and play a few minutes, and I don’t know when that is yet but it’ll probably be how we do it.”
The Knicks have lost six in a row and broke 100 points for the first time in eight games Saturday, and that was only because the game went into overtime.
Carmelo Anthony’s shooting is too erratic and too often, Amare Stoudemire’s explosiveness is down and so are his attempts, and the team hopes a veteran point guard can get it all clicking.
“I know I can definitely help. I know I can definitely do some things out there that can help,” Davis said. “We all need each other at this point as a team and we need to just figure out how to play off each other and just play with a style that suits everybody and works to everybody’s strengths and talents.”
If Davis plays well, the Knicks can reach the contending status that was predicted. That seems unlikely if he struggles, but Anthony said the players realize Davis can’t change things immediately.
“It’s different for us because we know what to expect and what not to expect. We know he’s been out for months, so we’re not expecting him to come in and just change everything in the first game or two games,” Anthony said. “It’s going to take some time, even when you do come back, so we as players and his teammates we know we’ve got to be patient with that.”
Though they didn’t expect to be 6-10, the Knicks knew they wouldn’t reach their potential until they had Davis. Even as he laboured Monday, he envisioned things looking much different.
“Once we hit stride offensively, once our offence catches up with our defence, we’re going to be unstoppable, so I’m not really worried about our record,” Davis said.