There have been times, Mike D'Antoni said Sunday, when Baron Davis "was the best point guard in the league." The Knicks' coach can only hope there will be more times like that because Davis is expected to sign with his team, perhaps as early as Monday.
Although D'Antoni and other Knicks officials would not comment on it after the team's open practice before an estimated 10,500 fans at the Garden, multiple sources have confirmed that Davis has committed to play for the Knicks.
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"Did we get him?" Carmelo Anthony asked reporters in the team's new locker room after the Knicks appeared in the refurbished Garden for the first time. When the star forward was told there was no announcement yet, he added: "I play ball, man. I don't know. I know him very well. If they bring him, I would love to have him, but I really don't know what that situation is like."
The situation revolves around the bulging L2-3 disc in the 32-year-old guard's back. The Cavaliers parted with him last week through the amnesty clause and Davis then cleared waivers. The Heat and Lakers reportedly were after the two-time All-Star, too, but the Knicks never denied their interest -- even though it is not clear when he will be able to play. There have been reports that he will miss the next eight to 10 weeks or that he will miss only four to six weeks.
"I think they're looking into how he feels physically and all that," D'Antoni said. "Discussions are going back and forth, then Glen will determine here shortly -- it has to be shortly, I'm sure -- whether we do it or not."
When he was asked about the pros and cons, D'Antoni was direct. The only "con" is the possibility that Davis' back is not ready. He was more expansive on the "pros."
"The guy can play," D'Antoni said. "There were times when he was the best point guard in the league. I think a lot of it depends on whether he wants to be here and physically if he's able to do it. If those things are positive, he could turn out to be a good thing."
If he does return to something close to 100 percent, Davis could erase the Knicks' major question mark. Having signed center Tyson Chandler and waived point guard Chauncey Billups, they are prepared to start the season with a combination of Toney Douglas and Mike Bibby at the point. That might not be enough to help them reach their goal of competing for a title.
With Alan Hahn