What's with this Baby talk?


What's with this Baby talk?

By Rich Levine

I can't wrap my brain around Glen Davis right now.

That's actually a pretty good set up for a joke (I know Doc would take the bait), but this is no laughing matter. This is serious, like KG's face as it's being smashed into the basket support.

I'm sitting here trying to understand why Big Baby said what he did at Celtics Media Day. What he meant. Where his motives lie. And nothing really makes sense.

You know that dizzy, helpless feeling you get after you've spent too much time trying to piece together the plots of the Back to the Future trilogy? (Oh, that's just me?) OK, well, it's beyond frustrating, and that's where I'm at.

Most of the confusion actually stems from a conversation I had with Davis about 10 minutes before the quotes that got all the attention, so before we get to the controversial statement, here's what happened before the cameras arrived and Davis went off.

The question was about his jump shot, which was deadly down the stretch in 2009 but disappeared entirely last season. It's not that Davis lost his touch either; he was just never in a position to use it. But with the addition of Shaq and Jermaine O'Neal, you'd expect this year to be different, so I wanted to know, despite his year-long sabbatical, if he had the jumper ready to go.

"Most definitely," he said. "That was one of my most focal points this summer. Last year, with the addition of Rasheed Wallace I had to go to the five position, but this year we have power at the five position and a lot of guys that can play the forward spots, so I can go back to my natural position where, the year Kevin went out, I really found a groove."

He was upbeat and optimistic, and I didn't blame him.

Last year was a tough one for Davis. He'd found success in this league one way, but the Celtics didn't need that player anymore. They needed him on the block, and for the most part, at least publicly, he never spoke out. He stayed quiet (except for that night in Detroit), sucked it up (not going to make joke about that night in Detroit), and to his credit did a great job. He embraced the change, crashed the boards and probably played harder on a nightly basis than anyone on that team.

But by the end of the season, his frustration was clearly mounting. For some reason, I always remember something Davis said before Game Seven of the Finals in L.A. Perk had already been ruled out, and, whether or not Baby started, he was still in line for a big bump in playing time.

When asked how he'd approach this opportunity, Davis said:

"I'm not a threat out there. And I know I can be a threat. I know what kind of player I am. The Lakers know what kind of player I am, but they really haven't seen me. I haven't hit a lot of jumpers this series. I have hit a lot of jumpers this year. But I can hit an open jumper, and they're giving it to me. I'm gonna be real aggressive. I'm either gonna be aggressive and Doc pulls me out of the game because I'm being too aggressive or I'm gonna be aggressive and hit my shots. I'm not about to sit here, and think about what I should have did. I'm gonna go out do what I should do."

That's a guy who's ready to break out. He felt shackled by his role on last year's team, so in speaking with him on Monday, I wasn't surprised to hear the excitement in his voice as he talked about getting back to his natural position; the place where he found his groove.

I walked around a little bit more, gawked at Shaq for a while, and then left Media Day feeling great about Glen Davis.

Happy. Motivated. Focused.

I got home, and turned on my computer to this:

"I gotta find out what my role is.," Davis told reporters when asked about the O'Neal effect. "With Rasheed last year, I had to become a center. Now? I don't know. Do I become a power forward? Do I go back to playing the 4? We'll see.

"It's difficult because, as a player, you kind of don't understand where the organization is going or what they are doing. No matter what I do I can play great it's still not enough. I'm just here to help the team wherever possible, any way I can. Whenever I find my role, I'll do it to the max, the only way I can."

I don't know. There's so much that doesn't make sense.

First of all, forget for a second that Davis actually does know his role and consider if there's really any question to begin with. Given the roster, how else would he fit in on this team? And given the circumstances, how else should the Celtics have handled the past few seasons? It's not like they asked him to move to center in 2009 and then backup point guard in 2010. He's a power forward who was asked to play center for one season and now, a year later, is being moved back to his natural position. It's that simple. Davis is a role player. That's the way it works. And the truth is, it doesn't matter what position Davis is playing, his role is always the same: Come off the bench and bring energy and rebounding. Sure, there will be times where you are expected to hit some jump shots other times, when you're not. But that's always second priority at best.

OK, now remember that Davis actually does know and understand his role, and ask yourself: "Why did he say it?" Your guess is as good as mine.

Maybe this was just a "Randy Moss at the Podium" moment. Maybe Davis has a lot of pent-up feelings from last season that festered over the summer, and he wanted to get them all out before the season got underway. Like Randy, maybe he got going on an emotional topic, couldn't stop himself and ended up saying way too much, or maybe, like Randy, Baby's just feeling under appreciated and wants a little love. Maybe he's worried about not having a firm identity as he heads into free agency next summer (although, versatile big man has a nice ring to it). Or maybe, as Doc Rivers implied, Davis just likes people talking about him.

If so, mission accomplished. But there's one more far important mission, if he chooses to accept it, on the horizon for Davis this year.

Just play basketball.

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Report: Celtics plan is 'sequencing' acquisitions of Hayward, George

Report: Celtics plan is 'sequencing' acquisitions of Hayward, George

The Celtics are working to acquire BOTH Paul George and Gordon Hayward this summer, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports' The Vertical reports.

More from Woj's report:

The Boston Celtics are pursuing an aggressive summer plan of sequencing the signing of free agent Gordon Hayward and relinquishing the assets needed to complete a trade for Paul George, league sources told The Vertical.

For salary-cap purposes, Boston wants a Hayward commitment before it can finalize a trade for George and secure the most dynamic free-agent coup in franchise history, league sources said.

For Boston, here’s the hitch: While Indiana believes Boston can offer the best possible package, the Pacers may be unwilling to wait until the start of July free agency on Boston’s timetable and could turn toward making a deal elsewhere for George, league sources told The Vertical. 

This report confirms an earlier one from the weekend that said the C's were looking to acquire both superstars.


Celtics could score with a three-year deal for Gallinari

Celtics could score with a three-year deal for Gallinari

The Celtics' two main targets in free agency are expected to be Gordon Hayward and Blake Griffin. But what if neither signs here . . . or what if the C's have other plans? This week, we'll look at some of  'The Other Guys' who might interest the Celtics: TODAY: Denver's Danilo Gallinari.

BOSTON -- It seems Utah's Gordon Hayward has been at the top of the Celtics' offseason wish list forever.
And not too far behind him, you find Los Angeles Clippers' free-agent-to-be Blake Griffin.
Coming off the heels of landing the second-best free agent a year ago in Al Horford, the Celtics are feeling pretty good about this free-agent thing after having had little luck in previous years at landing the best available players.


But if Hayward and Griffin decide to stay with their respective teams or take their talents elsewhere, what will the Celtics do?
The Celtics will have to shift their attention to ‘The Other Guys' section of free agency, which won't move the needle like the addition of Hayward or Griffin would. Still, these players would make good additions to a Celtics team that's clearly on the rise.
We start off with Denver's Danilo Gallinari.
If you recall, Gallinari has been a player of interest for Boston as recently as the last trade deadline. However, the Nuggets were battling for the eighth and final playoff spot and had just traded for Mason Plumlee to help solidify their interior while Gallinari was having one of the best shooting seasons of his eight-year NBA career.
The idea of moving him at the trade deadline didn't make a lot of sense for the Nuggets, and the assets Boston would have had to come up with to match his $16.1 million contract made acquiring him a hefty cost. To be candid, it wasn't worth it then. But now?
He's available. Shortly after opting out of his $16.1 option to become a free agent, he made it clear he wasn't necessarily doing it to sign a longer-team deal with Nuggets.
"Nuggets are not my first choice, but they are exactly at the same level of the other teams," Gallinari told reporters back in June. "Denver's advantage is that they can offer me a five-year contract while other franchises can offer me a four-year deal. Nuggets are at the same level of others."
Gallinari can score, and does so in a variety of ways. He averaged 18.2 points per game last season, the second-highest scoring average of his career. At 6-foot-10 and 225 pounds, the 28-year-old has the kind of multi-positional skillset that Brad Stevens could easily plug in and not miss a beat.
Gallinari has spent most of his NBA career playing both forward positions. But in this new age, it's not a stretch to see Gallinari used as a "stretch big" at center whose inside-outside game has the potential to make him a nightmare for teams to try and guard in Boston.
And while his perimeter game certainly gets a lot of attention, Gallinari can score from various points on the floor. He was one of just nine players in the NBA this past season to average at least five 3-point attempts and six free-throw attempts per game. The company he's keeping in that category includes league MVP Russell Westbrook of Oklahoma City; Houston's James Harden; could-be Celtics teammate Isaiah Thomas; Portland's Damian Lillard; New Orleans center DeMarcus Cousins; San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard; NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant, and Toronto's Kyle Lowry.
They have all appeared in the All-Star game at least two of the last three seasons, which speaks to how impressive and rare it is for a shooter like Gallinari to also manage to find his way to the free-throw line a lot.
His track record with injuries. I'm not gonna lie. It absolutely scares the crap out of me. He has eight seasons under his belt and has failed to play 63 or more games in all but two of them. That includes the lockout-shortened 2012 season, but that doesn't take away from the concerns that any team would have when it comes to Gallinari's longstanding track record of injuries.
So durability is not something you can bank on with this guy.
You love his versatility as a scorer, but he tends to take the first decent look rather than probe the defense for a better shot for him or a teammate.
According to nba.com/stats, 42.8 percent of his shots were catch-and-shoot attempts while 55.2 percent of the shots he takes come without a single dribble taken. For 91.7 percent of his shots taken, the amount of time he touches the ball before he launches is six seconds or less.
He's great at finishing around the rim, which you can see in him connecting on 64 percent of his shots in the restricted area.
But that number drops to 41.9 percent when he's shooting in the paint but outside of the restricted area.
And while the second-largest number of shot attempts for him last season (208) were mid-range attempts, he made just 38 percent of those shots with a decent number of those shots contested or forced.
While Gallinari's durability is certainly worth questioning, his toughness and grittiness as a player isn't. He's physical and is one of the NBA's better players when it comes to finding ways to create space, whether it's with a jab-step for a Paul Pierce-like fade-away jumper, or using his footwork to get a defender off balance and out of position and then make him pay with a drive to the basket for a score or a foul. The real concern when he's on the floor comes on defense, where he had a defensive rating of 109.4 last season. Just to put that in perspective, the only Celtics with a higher defensive rating this past season were Demetrius Jackson (117.8) and Jordan Mickey (116.1), who played a combined 30 games for Boston last season.
He's a mixed bag of talent for sure. But as a consolation prize for falling short in the Gordon Hayward/Blake Griffin sweepstakes, he's not a bad addition.

Three years and $60 million, with a player option for Year 3

I'm sure Gallinari could probably squeeze another year and a few million more dollars from another team, but here's why a three-year deal makes a lot of sense for him.

If he wants one more big payday after this contract, he has to show 1) he can be healthy for a couple seasons and 2) he can help a team win. He'll get both opportunities playing for the Celtics.
And remember, he's an eight-year veteran. So after two seasons he would qualify for a max salary that would be up to 35 percent of the salary cap, which is why you give him the option for the third season.
There's no guarantee he would play well enough to get that, obviously. But at least it would be an option at his disposal, which is what you would sell him on as a reason for not getting a fourth year.

For the Celtics, he adds another scorer to the roster who can play multiple positions. And from a monetary standpoint, getting him for no more than three years as opposed to four, makes him a lot more attractive if the Celtics decide to go in another direction and trade him.