By Jimmy Toscano
Doc Rivers and Glen Davis have always had one of those "tough love" relationships.
Davis has made his fair share of mistakes over the first four years of his career and some of them have come at not just the expense of himself, but of the Celtics, too.
Rivers has never been shy to call him out on them. But he always gave him another chance, while acknowledging that Davis is being forced to grow up in front of all of us. It's tough to do.
It also made it easier to forgive Davis when he contributed in the way the Celtics needed him to -- as the sixth man, providing defense, hustle, and energy.
Davis went 0-for-3 in those categories towards the end of the regular season and into the playoffs, deciding to focus more on "Ubunt-me" than Ubuntu.
"To me, I thought it was more in between his ears than his play," Rivers said on WEEI's Dennis and Callahan Morning Show on Monday. "I thought the whole contract thing affected his play. I thought he had the wrong focus at times because of that. I think when you stray away from just being a team player and . . . the role that youre given, I think you struggle. I think all players do. And I thought Baby did that."
Rivers attributed Davis' lack of production to the fact that he was trying too hard to fill the stat sheet with numbers, and eventually his pockets with cash, by scoring more.
Except all he was doing was forcing shots, not being physical enough down low, and most importantly not being dependable down the stretch.
"I thought scoring was way too important to him, instead of being who he is," Rivers said. "Babys never going to be a great scorer in our league, but he can score. What Baby has to be is an energy player, a guy who takes charges. When you look at his charge numbers from the first 40 games and then the last 40, theyre cut down, he got very few of them."
Perhaps Davis goes to bed every night and dreams of that game-winning jumper he hit a few years back in the playoffs against Orlando. That year Kevin Garnett went down, and Davis stepped in for him and did a commendable job, starting all 14 games in the playoffs and averaging almost 16 points.
He thought he could cash in off that success going into the offseason as a restricted free agent. But the offers didn't come -- and Davis came back to the C's on a two-year deal with his tail between his legs.
That playoff success didn't come this season, and it's probably due to the fact that he wanted it too badly.
"Weve got to get him back in the right frame of mind," Rivers said. "Babys a good basketball player. He can help us or any other team. But, to me, only if he plays the right way."
But Davis, who Rivers guessed had gained weight during the season, already has his eyes set on any other team that will allow him to "showcase his talents" as a starter. That opportunity is not presently an option on the Celtics, and doesn't look like it will be.
Still, Rivers, as he's done over the past four seasons, would welcome Davis back.
"Yeah, if we can get him for the right price," he said. "I think it would be nice, but we cant overpay."
If Davis doesn't change, he could be the one paying.
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