Forget them — the big-name expiring contract this year is Glen Davis, who will be back in Boston this winter for his fourth season in a Celtics uniform. He's going to make the most of it.
But one thing he's not going to do is worry about the summer of free agency that potentially lies ahead in 2011. Big Baby is going to be a big stoic.
"I don’t think about contract," Davis said earlier this week when he sat down with The Boston Globe's Julian Benbow. "When you think about contract, that’s when you really don’t focus on what you need to focus on. I’m just trying to focus on helping my team get back to the Finals and winning it."
Davis has yet to earn the first big contract of his career. Shortly after he was drafted in 2007, he signed a two-year deal at the rookie minimum. Then, after becoming a restricted free agent last summer, he briefly explored his options elsewhere before re-signing in Boston at two years and $5 million.
Big Baby has grown in a lot of ways over these past three seasons besides his bank account and his waistline. He's become a smarter, more unselfish, more team-oriented player, exactly the kind of sixth man Doc Rivers needs on his bench. But as he reflects on all his growth so far, he realizes he still has plenty of work to do. And perhaps now, at 24, he'll put it altogether and make this his breakout season.
"This is the year of finally hitting that line of maturity, of finally becoming that player that I knew I could be," Davis told Benbow. "Throughout my career, my three years being here, it’s been up and down. When I play, you’ve seen glimpses, like, ‘Wow, this guy could start. Or come off the bench.’ Glimpses up and down. But this is the year of Glen becoming that whole player that 10 years down the road, eight years down the road will hopefully be an All-Star."
He's a man of ambition, and why shouldn't he? This is a guy who was only 23 when he nailed the buzzer-beating jumper to kill Orlando in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals in '09. That moment alone showed maturity well beyond his years. This spring, with the world wondering if he could take the next step, he unleashed two signature performances — a 23-point, eight-rebound game against Miami with Kevin Garnett suspended for Game 2 in the first round, and an unforgettable Game 4 of the Finals when he came off the bench and destroyed the Lakers at the Garden.
We've seen flashy performances from the big fella before. But this could be the year he puts it all together. It's not just about signature moments anymore — it's about Davis bringing his best game every single night.
Big Baby has big aspirations for the Celtics.
"More of a sense of urgency throughout the year, but at the same time being healthy," he said. "Being [injured] kind of hurt us. Also, having a sense of urgency hurt us because we didn’t have it as much as we should have. We’ve got some things to work on. We know we’re capable of getting there."
Davis has spent his career so far waiting in the wings. He's got the gifts — physical, mental, emotional, the whole package — to be a star, but it's not yet his time. But it's starting to hit him that his time will soon come.
"I just try to look at the fact that Kevin Garnett is in front of me, and he’s going to be a Hall of Famer one day," Davis said. "Learning from him, because I’m young. I have a lot of years to play. But I’m going to get my opportunity. When my opportunity comes, people will know that I can play the game at a high level."
A lot of us already know. More and more are learning every day.