Denton: Davis Buyout Means More Playing Time For Youngsters

By John Denton
Feb. 21, 2014

ORLANDO – In a move designed to create more playing time for young post players Tobias Harris, Kyle O’Quinn and Andrew Nicholson, the Orlando Magic and power forward Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis mutually reached a contract buyout that will make him a free agent immediately.

Subtracting Davis opens up a spot in the Magic’s starting lineup, one that Harris filled on Friday night against the New York Knicks. Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said that Harris wouldn’t necessarily be the starter the rest of the season and that he will adjust at the position based on matchups and feel.

The buyout of Davis also allows Orlando to get more playing time for guard Victor Oladipo, who was also in the starting lineup on Friday.

Davis played in 45 games (with 43 starts) this season with Orlando, averaging 12.1 points and 6.3 rebounds in 30.1 minutes per game. He has led the team in scoring four times, in rebounding eight times and in assists twice. Davis scored 20 or more points four times, including a career-high 33 points on Dec. 3 in Philadelphia.

The Magic began buyout discussions with Davis earlier in the week, and when they were unable to deal him before Thursday’s trade deadline, the buyout plans were accelerated and ultimately executed.

``After the deadline passed, we just felt like this change was necessary and a good thing for our team and also for Glen,’’ Magic GM Rob Hennigan said. ``It mutually benefitted both sides. … It opens up opportunities for players on our team to get some minutes. Those minutes, with (head coach) Jacque (Vaughn), they will be based on merit and have to be earned. With Glen leaving, it certainly opens up some minutes for our younger guys.’’

Hennigan has said repeatedly in the past that he never wants the Magic to be too old or too young, and he stressed that veterans Jameer Nelson, Arron Afflalo and Jason Maxiell still have a place on the roster.

``We value all of the veterans that we have on our team and they have an important role on our team,’’ Hennigan said. ``Yes, we have a very young team, but you have to be careful about becoming too young and having too much youth. Finding that balance between young, old and everything in the middle is important.’’

With 12 players on the Magic’s roster, Hennigan said the team was considering signing at least one, and maybe two players to 10-day contracts in the coming days.

Davis played sparingly in the Magic’s two games this week, getting on the floor for just 13 minutes in Tuesday’s loss in Milwaukee and less than half of the first quarter in Wednesday’s loss in Cleveland. Davis, who plans to keep his home in Orlando even as he seeks work elsewhere in the NBA, took to Twitter on Friday to thank the Magic and the fans.

``I want to first thank the Orlando Magic for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this Organization over the last 3 years,’’ Davis wrote. ``Secondly, I want to thank the Magic fans and the Orlando community for welcoming me and my family into your family and for your support. Although I will no longer be a Magic player, I will continue to make Orlando my home. It’s great place to live and to raise my family. Thanks again for all of your support. I am eternally grateful. All my best!!!!’’

Davis’ two-plus seasons in Orlando were marked by injuries and emotional outbursts. He sparred with former coach Stan Van Gundy in his first season in Orlando (2012) and his strong start to last season was ended when he separated his shoulder and then broke a bone in the outside of his foot.

Davis, who got little assistance from either of his parents while growing up in the projects of Baton Rouge, La., was a highly emotional and often volatile player. He was fined or suspended on three different occasions while with the Magic, and he was prone to screaming at his younger teammates as he struggled to deal with Orlando’s losing ways the past two seasons.

Davis was well aware of his issues with anger management and said recently that he hoped people would understand that he was working to control his emotions and temper.

``In spite of things that I have done in my adult age, it’s hard to come up raising yourself. It’s hard to learn from other people when you don’t have good examples around you. You’re basically learning on experience and trial and error,’’ he said while still in a Magic uniform. ``God has blessed me that I made it out (of poverty) and I’m happy that despite the ups and downs and curveballs in my life that I’ve come to this point where I’ve done some good things. And I’m still young – 28 years old – and I have a lot more to go in life.

``People think that because I’m a basketball player that I should know better or never step out of line, but it’s hard when you’re still young and you’re still growing as a person.’’

Several Magic players spoke out on Friday about their affinity for Davis and how much he will be missed in the locker room because of his gregarious nature. ``You can’t ever be surprised with anything in the league and it’s a business,’’ Magic point guard Jameer Nelson said. ``My time with Glen has been great and he was a great teammate. Despite what people think of him, he’s a great guy and I just wish him good luck.’’

Added Harris: ``My teammates and me, thank Glen for all that he’s done for us personally. Any time a teammate is not going to be with the team, it’s a little sad. But we know that Glen is a great player and he’s going to be fine. Wherever his next destination is, he’ll do a great job. We just wish the best for Glen.’’

Harris has spent most of this season at small forward, but he’ll now move back to power forward. With Davis out injured late last season, Harris played almost exclusively at power forward and averaged 17.5 points and 9.3 rebounds.

``Glen played a lot of minutes for us, so those minutes open up at the (power forward position),’’ Harris said. ``Whichever way that coach wants to go in that direction, guys will adapt to that and be ready.’’