- Chris Forsberg, Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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When Glen Davis emerged from the locker room area at the Celtics' practice facility Monday, the conversation was light, centering on the Louisiana native's emotions after the New Orleans Saints topped the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV the day before.
And while Davis offered a couple, "Who Dat," and spoke at length about what it means for his home state to have the Saints bring home a world title, Davis soon turned introspective and spent much of the session chatting about his own trying season.
As Davis and the Celtics trekked to New Orleans in advance of Wednesday's game against the Hornets, Davis found himself at the center of trade speculation after league sources told ESPN's Chris Broussard that Boston had talked with the Bobcats about a potential swap that would include sending Davis to Charlotte for point guard D.J. Augustin.
For Davis, it's the latest headline in a season dotted with missteps. He missed the first 27 games of the season after an off-court altercation left him with a fractured right thumb. Since his return, he's been in the spotlight more for nickname swaps ("Uno Uno") and obscene outbursts (fined $25,000 by the NBA for an incident with a fan in Detroit) than his on-court production.
Davis, who averaged 15.8 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.8 assists while filling in for injured Kevin Garnett during the 2009 playoffs, had lofty expectations assigned to him.
But after inking a two-year, $6.3 million deal to return to Boston this past offseason, he's been a bit of a disappointment. Davis is averaging 5.7 points, 4 rebounds, and 0.6 assists per game over 16.5 minutes, which is down even from his 2008-09 regular-season numbers (7 points, 4 rebounds, 0.9 assists over 21.5 minutes).
Fortunately for Davis, with his injuries healed, he might finally be settling into his role. In five games this month, his production has spiked (7.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists in 17 minutes), including a pair of quality efforts in his last two games against the Nets (13 points, 3 rebounds) and the Magic (9 points, 7 rebounds).
"I'm put on the floor for a job and that's to be aggressive, play defense," said Davis. "I'm basically an energy guy. That's what I do. If I don't go out there and be aggressive, I'm not helping my team out. Being aggressive is -- if you have an open shot, take it; if you have a post-up, take it. Me not using my talents is not helping this team.
"I have a role, but at the same time I can do other things. You do your role, but you also do what helps this team. That's my mentality, since a couple of games ago, to realize the fact that I can play this game. It wasn't too long ago that I was a key factor in helping us win and I know I can [help us win in the future]. I'm not helping my team if I'm not using my talent."
A (somewhat) healthy Garnett, along with the addition of Rasheed Wallace, and Davis' own injury troubles have certainly limited Big Baby's opportunities this season. But given Wallace's own struggles this season, Davis might have an opportunity to play himself into a larger role.
"It's all mental," said Davis. "Physically, I felt like I was ready [when he returned from injury]. Coming back and really being asked to portray a different role, it kinda took away my aggressiveness. Basically, I'm taking another role. Me understanding what my role is and now understanding when I can get my shots, when do I do that, when can I do this. I can help my team, give them another option besides giving the ball to Rasheed all the time and playing Rasheed heavy minutes. They can play me minutes, but that's only when I'm aggressive and I'm a threat out there on the floor. So, I just try to do my job and do what I know I can do."
Given the limited use of Shelden Williams and Brian Scalabrine, Davis is integral to Boston's frount court. It's part of the reason the team is unlikely to move him for a backup point guard. A big man with the potential he flashed last season is far more valuable than a backup to Rajon Rondo (who is logging 40 minutes per game this month).
Being home in New Orleans for Wednesday's game, it'd be easy for Davis to get caught up in the hoopla of the Saints' celebration and seeing his family and friends. But maybe he's learned from his troubles this season.
In a lesson that would behoove the entire Boston roster, maybe Davis is ready to re-focus himself.
"I'll be ready to play," said Davis. "Basketball comes first."
After early-season troubles, Glen Davis says he's refocused and ready to help.