As the NBA lockout moves toward December and the prospect of more canceled games, including the league's Christmas showcase, looms larger, Cleveland Cavaliers guard Baron Davis says he hasn't yet lost faith a resolution can be found.
"I'm optimistic. I'm very optimistic that there will be a season," he told 710 ESPN's John Ireland and Mychal Thompson. "You've just got to keep hoping, and just keep waiting patiently, and I think that both sides will figure it out."
Still, if fans are looking for a side to blame, Davis made it clear where he believes fingers should point.
"We're not the ones that are [locking out anyone]. As far as we know, the game was fine and everything was great. We play the game, we are the game. We are the ones who got locked out and were told that we couldn't play," he said. "We've went from where we started to where we are now, in good faith trying to negotiate and get what's right for us, but also to do what's right by the owners. We've made several, several proposals that are more than beneficial and could have had the season going and under way. ... It's just a matter of them saying 'We're going to hold out until we get what we want. Not only do we want what's fair, we want what's fair and we want more than that.'"
NBA players have ended the collective bargaining process with the league's owners and turned to the courts, filing separate class-action antitrust lawsuits in California and Minnesota against the NBA before withdrawing the California suit earlier this week.
Davis is among the plaintiffs named in the original Minnesota lawsuit.
Despite the legal wrangling, the door remains open for both sides to reach a settlement paving the way for the 2011-12 season to begin. Asked if negotiations were continuing behind the scenes, Davis was coy.
"I'm not really privy to that knowledge, and if I was, I wouldn't tell you," he said.
Like many players, Davis has passed the time playing in a variety of pickup and charity games, and is hosting his own Sunday at Los Angeles Southwest College, featuring a large roster of local NBA talent. Coping with time away from the game has been difficult, he said.
"Basketball is something we've done all our lives," Davis said. "It's like an every-day routine, and to not have an opportunity to be on the court and be around your friends, it's disheartening."
Once games eventually return, Davis expressed excitement about working with young point guard Kyrie Irving, selected by Cleveland with the first overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft. While he still has "complete faith" in his ability to play at a high level, Davis understands Irving is the point guard of the future for the Cavaliers. It's his job, he says, to facilitate the process.
"I want to be there to mentor this kid because I didn't really have that for myself when I came in as a young kid. So my whole thing is about giving back, especially trying to develop and help these young guys become better players, become better people and do well in the community and their life," he said. "So for me, it's an opportunity more so than anything to help someone jump-start their career in the right way."
While many believe Davis will be traded, or perhaps even released by the Cavaliers, the veteran point guard said he's happy in Cleveland and deflected questions about a potential return to Los Angeles. Still, at this stage of his career, Davis said making the postseason is vital.
"I live for those playoffs, and those playoff games and the atmosphere. My motivation right now working out is to be the best that I can be for any team, especially for the Cleveland Cavaliers and get us to where we need to be, which is the playoffs."
Brian Kamenetzky covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.