Time Ticking Away on Big Baby’s Chance to Cash In


Aug 6, 2009

No one likes to hear a Big Baby crying, but in this case, a few tears might be justified.

Restricted free agent Glen Davis has voiced his displeasure with the Celtics over the past week, venting about his struggle to find a contract in Boston or anywhere else. The 23-year-old forward, who faces a qualifying offer of a little over $1 million to return to the Celtics next season, has been unable to attract a single other offer from anyone in the NBA.

If you'd just lost out on millions of dollars, you'd be crying too.

When the NBA free agent frenzy began last month, Davis was giddy at the prospect of earning the complete $5.8 million of some team's midlevel exception. He had just come off a tremendous postseason as the Celtics' starting power forward in place of the injured Kevin Garnett, and he had produced when his team needed it. He averaged 15.8 points and 5.6 rebounds per game with the increased playing time, and the Celtics will never forget his buzzer-beater that won Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Magic.

But realistically, paying big bucks to keep Davis makes little sense to the Celtics. They're over the salary cap and teetering around the luxury tax threshold, meaning they'll have to pay double Davis' salary to keep him aboard. If you're wondering why the Celtics went after Shelden Williams instead of Baby, the answer's simple: money.

But Davis wasn't happy about it. The day after Williams signed with the Celtics on Monday — for the veteran's minimum, a much lower price tag than Davis is looking for — Big Baby posted angry messages on his Twitter page in reaction, demanding answers.

"Anybody knows what's going on with the celtics? Cause I don't!!!!!"

But actually, you could argue that what's going on in the mind of Celtics GM Danny Ainge is perfectly reasonable.

Ainge is feeling cash-strapped and risk-averse. He likes Baby, who shows a lot of promise at 23, but he's hoping to lock him up as cheaply as possible. If he's lucky, he thinks, every single team in the NBA will pass on making Baby a bigger offer, and the C's modest qualifying price will be enough to lock him up.

Given two circumstances — both the troubled current economy and teams' reluctance to waste cap space with 2010 coming up — that sounds like a good guess.

A lot of the early favorites for Davis have faded away. Dallas, Orlando and San Antonio are just a few of the teams that have spent their time and money looking elsewhere. Cleveland has started to develop other ideas. No one wants to spend big money on a youngster who's never had a regular starting job. Davis has upside, but he's a gamble. This is the wrong climate in which to make that gamble.

It's understandable that Big Baby is frustrated. He was expecting millions this summer, and things are looking grim. But all this means is that when he comes back to the court next season, he needs to give everything he's got in order to prove himself.

On the Celtics' end, things are looking up. With the lack of demand for Big Baby, it just keeps looking more and more like a buyers' market, and given the way he produced in the postseason this year, the Celtics certainly have nothing against buying.

Davis said it himself — the Celtics are simply "doing what's best for the club." And at the moment, the best move is to wait — the longer Davis goes unsigned, the lower his price gets.

A lot has changed in the past month. At the start of July, it looked clear that Davis would be headed out, making the move to whatever team could offer him more money and more millions.

It now looks as though that team doesn't exist. When the season tips off this October, it wouldn't be too surprising to see Davis back in Boston.

Boston might not make him rich, but it might make him happy. Davis and the Celtics are a good fit.

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