Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Baron Davis made his first appearance in a Knicks uniform Monday afternoon, and said his goal is to help New York win its first NBA title since 1973.
“From the time I got into the league, my goal is to always win a championship or depending on the team, get us to the playoffs,” he said, adding that he also fielded calls from the Miami Heat and his hometown Los Angeles Lakers. “And winning is the most important thing to me. That’s what basketball is all about, to have that joy and lift that trophy.
“And this is my sole motivation for coming here is I think that we have the tools and the pieces, and if we can gel together and develop that team chemistry I like our chances against anybody in this league.’
Davis, 32, signed for the $1.4 million veteran’s minimum, not the $2.5 million “room” exception, according to the New York Times. Davis will wear No. 85, which represents the street where he lived his grandparents, Newsday reported.
Still, Davis said he’s likely out 8-10 weeks with herniated discs in his back, although the final timetable “is up to the medical staff here…to make a fair assessment as to what that timeline is.”
He said he had something similar in the past but it “went away” and does not believe he needs surgery.
“I’ve been doing a lot stretching and some therapy on my own,” he said. “I’ve been seeing a little bit of improvement. Once you get that constant attention and you’re within the team system and you’re getting the attention and proper care that it takes I’m very confident it can better.”
He admitted it’s frustrating not being able to play.
“It’s real tough,” he said. “And with the lockout and all, we’re all put in a tough situation to kind of work back, and that’s the one thing that I don’t want to do [come back too early]. But when I do hit that floor, I know it will be a special thing and I’m going to play with my heart.”
A two-time NBA All-Star (2002 and ’04) Davis holds career averages of 16.5 points, 7.3 assists and 1.9 steals. Last year with the Los Angeles Clippers and Cavs, he averaged 13.1 points and 6.7 assists in 58 games.
The Knicks have Toney Douglas and Mike Bibby to play the point, and Davis indicated he would play whatever role coach Mike D’Antoni wanted, whether that’s starting or coming off the bench.
“As far as I’m concerned, I just want to play,” he said. “Whether I play 10 minutes, whether I play 40 minutes, whether I’m over there with pom-poms or waving a towel, I just want to be on this team. I want to play for this organization. However coach D’Antoni feels he needs me out there on the floor, then I’m going to make myself available.”
Davis said he planned to be a “facilitator” on a team that features both Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire.
“When you have two great scorers like that, the way that you saw them start to gel late in the season with each other, they’re going to get their shots,” DAvis said. “Amar’e’s going to get his shots, ‘Melo’s going to get his shots. And everyone else on this team is going to get their shots because of the style of play that we play.
“And for me it’s going to be more of a joy. We got one guy over here who can get 40, we got another guy over here who can get 40. It’s kind of like pick your poison.”
Davis said the point guard has to know “who’s hot.”
“When Amar’e needs the touch he gets the ball,” he said. “When Carmelo needs the touch, he gets the ball. This is an unselfish team. Everyone on this team is unselfish — including Amar’e, including Carmelo — and rarely do you get that from your two main guys.”
Davis didn’t go all “dream team” like Vince Young, but said he likes his new team’s chances.
“Dream team, I wouldn’t go that far,” he said. “It would be a dream team if we win a championship. It would be a dream.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.