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It was the first time Davis participated in a 5-on-5 scrimmage since signing with the Knicks on Dec. 20. Previously, he had been mostly working one-on-one with the team's training staff on his shooting, improving his strength and regaining his stamina after suffering a herniated disc in his back. It was an injury that at one point severely limited his movement, but on Monday he had a very spirited attitude on the court and while talking to reporters.
"It felt wonderful," Davis said, "considering like three months ago every time I came to the gym, I could barely walk or even pass the ball when I was working out with my kids. It just felt good to be out there with my teammates. I had a smile on my face. I just wanted to bring some spirit and some joy. It's been a long time coming."
After practice, Davis said he was rusty, as expected, and that "everything" is missing right now, referring to his timing, strength and conditioning. One thing he was pleased with was his basketball instincts, being able to feel out the offense and make some smart reads. Still though, Davis said it's going to take some time for him to adjust to coach Mike D'Antoni's up-tempo and free-flowing style.
"With the sophistication of our offense, and what Coach is demanding of us, everything is happening so fast," he said. "It just takes time and timing and pace in order to really get that rhythm. Once our offense catches up with our defense, we're going to be unstoppable, so I'm not really worried about our record."
Davis is viewed as a major solution for the team's offensive woes, as they're only averaging 94.3 points per game and power forward Amare Stoudemire is struggling from the field, shooting 41.3 percent. Davis, whose career averages are 16.5 points and 7.3 assists per game, knows he can definitely help, but as far as when, that's not yet been determined.
D'Antoni said there is no timetable for Davis' return. D'Antoni plans to ease him into the rotation, and he'll monitor his progress in the next couple of days with the team's training staff.
"The good is he's back on the floor and then we start getting better," the head coach said. "But it's going to take a little while for him to get his mojo back or whatever it is. But it was good, it was positive."
Davis, in fact, mulled retirement last summer while struggling with his injury, but he was excited about the opportunity to sign with the Knicks for a chance to compete for a championship.
Stoudemire is very happy to finally have Davis back.
"Baron came out and did a phenomenal job today," he said. "He's worked so hard this year. I saw him train all season, so it looks phenomenal. His creativity alone is something special, the way he handles the ball, the way he passes, the way he sees the game."
Davis is aware of the high expectations placed upon himself. In fact, they've been on every Knicks point guard -- Toney Douglas, Iman Shumpert and Mike Bibby -- since Chauncey Billups was released via the amnesty clause on Dec. 10.
On paper, Davis is the best out of the current Knicks bunch. Is he up for the challenge? He said he is.
"I'm very, very confident that this season will definitely turn around," he said, "and we're going to hit our stride and we're going to have the fans behind us, even though they boo. They're just passionate about winning. All we ask is for their patience and to keep supporting us, because the booing is not going to really help us think through things."Jared Zwerling is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.