Davis starts NBA comeback with D-League's Red Claws

625798.jpg

Davis starts NBA comeback with D-League's Red Claws

Ricky Davis ran through shootaround like he had done hundreds of times before. Only this morning, he wasnt preparing for just any basketball game.

Davis was getting ready to begin his comeback to the NBA, starting on the road in Canton, Ohio for his debut with the Maine Red Claws of the NBA Development League.

Its my first morning practice since I left the (Los Angeles) Clippers two, three years ago, Davis told CSNNE.com in a telephone interview on Thursday. It felt great.

The 32-year-old guard joined the Boston Celtics, Charlotte Bobcats, and Philadelphia 76ers D-League affiliate on Wednesday. He had not played in an NBA game since February 9, 2010 when he scored four points for the Clippers during a loss to the Utah Jazz. He was waived one week later.

After being cut by the Clippers, Davis (who also played for the Charlotte Hornets, Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, and Minnesota Timberwolves) traveled to Turkey to play overseas. But a nagging pain in his left knee that he had been battling during his time with the Clippers continued to bother him in Europe.

He returned to the United States and contemplated retirement after 12 years in the NBA.

My knee was hurting so bad. I lost my explosiveness and I wasnt really able to do what I wanted to, said Davis, who averaged 13.5 points, 3.3 assists, and 3.5 rebounds over 736 NBA games. It was just kind of like I was a person out there knowing what I could do and knowing what I used to do, and getting out there and not being able to do it, its kind of the part that hits you deep in your soul.

Davis had previously been told the pain was caused by tendonitis. Seeking one last opinion before he decided whether or not to hang it up, he made an appointment with a specialist when he came back from Turkey. Within ten minutes, he says, the doctor saw a patella tear.

The diagnosis was the best news Davis had heard in a while. It gave him hope for a return to basketball.

He underwent surgery and after rehabbing his knee, played in China and France. What he originally thought would be his final games turned out to be the beginning of a new opportunity in basketball.

I only went to play overseas because I thought I was hurting and I thought it was the down of my career, Davis said. I was going to go over there for two or three more years and just end my career. But now that I know what I felt and that I wasnt done and that it could have been fixed, now its like a new life. Going out there this second road again, it feels good knowing that Im just 32 and Ive got a lot of bounce in my step now.

As Davis begins his quest back to the NBA, being faced with the possibility of never being able to play basketball again has made him stronger.

It was tough, he said. It was very humbling. I think it gave me the chance to put my life in perspective. It gave me a chance to bring Jesus in my life and pray about it and finally get the grown man perspective on life. I think maybe I needed that in my life to humble me and get me back on the path I needed to go.

For Davis, the grown man perspective focuses on humbleness, the importance of being a good teammate, and taking things one day at a time. He hopes to share that with the Red Claws and their community this season. For his first game, he arranged for ten children from a local church to attend the match up.

And while Davis looks to help the Red Claws and take his experience with them one game at a time, he feels he still has unfinished business in the NBA. One place he would like to take care of it is with his former team, the Celtics.

Davis played for the Celtics from 2003 through 2006 before being traded to the Timberwolves as part of the Wally Szczerbiak deal. Five years and three NBA teams later, Davis would still like to return to Boston.

Oh yeah definitely. No hesitation at all, he said. Those guys over there, theyre class acts. Doc Rivers is easily probably one of the best coaches Ive ever played for. Hes the one that kind of started the team thing with me, bringing me off the bench and teaching me different kinds of things in the game. That would be a great blessing for me to go back to Boston and get my Bucket Brigade going again (laughs).

Davis recorded six points (3-8 FG), four assists, two rebounds, and two steals in his debut with the Red Claws on Thursday night against the Canton Charge. Even though his game is still similar to what it was the last time he played in the NBA, his injuries have forced him to make slight adjustments that he finds helpful on the court.

My games pretty much the same. Maybe about one or two inches off my vertical now (laughs) but its great, he said. Now that Ive been injured I think its helped me put my game in an all-around situation -- not going to dunk on people, I have to make the open pass; not using my explosiveness and using my brain. Now that Ive got my explosiveness back and my brain, I think it could be really, really good for me.

He looks forward to the day when he can step on to an NBA court and prove it.

Oh yeah, Ive got a lot to show, he said. I was holding back and Im ready. Im ready.

Young getting on floor more for Celtics, including key fourth-quarter stints

Young getting on floor more for Celtics, including key fourth-quarter stints

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – For most of his life, basketball has come easy to James Young.
 
So, the idea that in training camp he wasn’t just fighting to get playing time but also to stay in the NBA, was a jarring eye-opener.
 
To Young’s credit, he rose to the challenge and beat out R.J. Hunter for the Celtics' final roster spot.
 
And while Young’s playing time has been sporadic, he has done a much better job of maximizing his opportunities.
 
So, as the Celtics roll into Detroit to face the Pistons, Young finds himself playing his best basketball as a pro, good enough to make coach Brad Stevens not hesitate to put him in the game in the fourth quarter of a close matchup.
 
“It’s exciting to come back home,” Young, who grew up in nearby Rochester Hills, Mich., told CSNNE.com. “A lot of my family will be there. I’m not thinking about me. I’m just trying to do what I can to help the team.”
 
And lately, he’s getting an opportunity to do just that beyond being someone who helps in practice.
 
We saw that in the 107-97 loss at Toronto on Friday. Young came off the bench to play four minutes, 36 seconds in the fourth quarter with only two other Celtics reserves, Marcus Smart (8:39) and Jonas Jerebko (5:10) seeing more action down the stretch.
 
“It means a lot,” Young said. “He’s starting to trust me a little bit more. That’s a good thing. I’m just trying to do little things; rebound, get defensive stops and score when I get a chance.”
 
The fact that his scoring is just starting to take shape helps shed some light on why he has been buried so deep on the Celtics bench.
 
For his first couple seasons, Young seemed a hesitant shooter physically overwhelmed by opponents too strong for him to defend as well as too physical for him to limit their effectiveness.
 
But this season, he has done a better job at holding his own as a defender while making himself an available scoring option who can play off his teammates.
 
Young is averaging just 2.9 points per game this season, but he’s shooting a career-high 48.9 percent from the field and 41.7 percent on 3’s, which is also a career-high.
 
Getting on the floor more often has in many ways provided yet another boost of confidence to Young.
 
“I’m getting used to the flow of the game playing more consistently,” Young said. “I know what to do. It’s slowing up a little more and it’s getting easier.”
 

Blakely: Raptors newcomers show Celtics what they're missing

Blakely: Raptors newcomers show Celtics what they're missing

TORONTO – It’s far too soon to say if the Celtics’ decision to stand pat at the trade deadline was a mistake.
 
But the early returns aren’t encouraging.
 
Their 107-97 loss Friday night to the Toronto Raptors wasn’t because of Kyle Lowry (right wrist), who didn’t even play, or DeMar DeRozan, who played out his mind while scoring a career-high 43 points.
 
The game will be remembered by the new guys Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker, both acquired at the trade deadline by the Raptors.
 
Ibaka, who was a bad fit, and on most nights a bad player, in Orlando, looked like the O-K-C Ibaka while scoring 15 points to go with seven rebounds against the Celtics – numbers that were better than his two games combined against the Celtics this season with the Magic when he scored a total of just 12 points while grabbing eight rebounds.
 
And then there was Tucker, who got a crash video course on Raptors playbook just hours before the game, and proceeded to show the kind of toughness at both ends of the floor that has made him one of the league’s more underrated defenders as he finished with a near double-double of nine points and 10 rebounds.
 
It was their first game with their new team, but you would have thought they had been with Toronto all season long with how seamless they seemed to fit in.
 
Ibaka draining jumpers, Tucker causing chaos defensively, while absolutely crushing the Celtics on the boards...their play was a painful reminder of what could have been for the Green team.
 
Both were rumored to have been in the Celtics’ crosshairs prior to the Thursday 3 p.m. trade deadline. The Celtics were lukewarm at best on Ibaka (they didn’t want what would have been a 25-game rental) and just couldn’t quite strike a deal and cross the finish line for Tucker.
 
It’s too soon to hit the panic button and rip Danny Ainge for not getting a minor deal done like adding Tucker or Ibaka.
 
Still, his players have to embrace the truth behind what transpired this trade season.
 
Ainge went big-game hunting, focusing most of the team's efforts on landing a major difference-maker, a la Jimmy Butler or Paul George.
 
When that didn’t work out, he settled for the next best thing, which was to keep this group together.
 
The onus is now on them to prove that trust Ainge has in them, was well-placed.
 
Putting too much stock in the first game after the break is a risky proposition that no one should subscribe to.
 
But in the loss, it revealed many of the concerns and weaknesses of this roster that tend to get magnified in defeat while glossed over when they manage to win despite those flaws.
 
Isaiah Thomas may be the best scorer in the fourth quarter, but he’s human.
 
There will be games when Mr. Fourth Quarter can’t get it done.
 
Friday night was that kind of game for him. He scored just four of his team-high 20 points in the fourth.
 
And as the Raptors blitzed him repeatedly with two and three defenders, his teammates failed to step up when the opportunity was there to make impactful, game-altering plays down the stretch.
 
Watching the Celtics’ defense in the second half was painful.
 
DeRozan got whatever he wanted, when he wanted it.
 
And when he missed, the Raptors controlled the boards, got all the 50/50 balls and repeatedly out-worked Boston.
 
It exposed Boston in a way that’s painful to see, especially when those inflicting the greatest amount of damage could have been in the Celtics huddle and not the one on the other sideline.