LOS ANGELES - Baron Davis says he believes St. John's is "a perfect situation" for Steve Lavin, who coached the Clippers guard at UCLA.

"I think it's a great job for him," Davis said before last night's game against the Knicks. "Especially now, he's a lot more mature . . . Now is the time for him to get back into coaching."

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Davis played for Lavin from 1997-99 before he left for the NBA and has been critical of Lavin's in-game coaching ability in the past. According to the Contra Costa Times, during a workout at Pauley Pavilion in 1997, Davis pointed to UCLA's 11 championship banners and said, "We should have a banner up there: The only team to make the tournament without a coach."

Lavin, a terrific recruiter, led UCLA to six straight NCAA Tournament bids, with at least a Sweet 16 finish in each, with several players who moved on to NBA careers (Davis, Trevor Ariza, Jason Kapono, Earl Watson, Matt Barnes, Ryan Hollins and Dan Gadzuric). He was fired in 2003 and joined ESPN as a college basketball analyst, which Davis believes was a good move.

"I think analyzing, looking at games, not having a biased opinion toward yourself, gave him a better understanding," Davis said. "I always said his next job, he was going to do a great job."

As for whether a California guy can recruit in New York, Davis, an L.A. native who frequents New York in the summer, smiled.

"Yeah, absolutely," he said. "It's all personality. And he's got the personality."