Washington Wizards training camp invitee Paul Davis has made the team’s regular season roster after making the most of the limited opportunities he received to prove himself.
With Antawn Jamison out another three to five weeks while healing from his partially dislocated right shoulder, the Wizards are down a big man. Davis showed in practices and in four preseason appearances, that he can contribute by doing some of the little things that the team got from his No. 9 predicesor, Darius Songaila, whom the team shipped to Minnesota as part of the Mike Miller/Randy Foye deal, but is now in New Orleans.
“Flip and Ernie make it pretty clear what to expect, what they wanted,” said the 6-foot-11 Davis, who is entering his fourth year in the league. “Just come in and defensively play solid and pick up the plays and concepts, rebound, open jumpers. That basically is my role is on the team, and just be ready to play whether its five minutes in the game or if they need me for 30. Over training camp, I meshed well with the staff and with the players.”
Davis averaged 3.3 points and 1.4 rebounds in 5.8 minutes of action during the preseason. Making the roster marks a significant accomplishment for him after he missed nearly all of last season with a knee injury while playing for the Los Angeles Clippers.
Davis played in 27 games last season and averaged four points and 2.4 rebounds in 11.9 minutes an outing for the Clippers. He got cut in January of 2009, a year after he had surgery to repair two torn ligaments in his right knee. Davis still wasn’t back to 100 percent, so he — like Gilbert Arenas — spent the summer training under Tim Grover.
He came in at training camp and aimed not to impress as much as he could, but to simply do what was asked and let things unfold on their own.
“I figured, come in and control what I can control. That’s what I do on the court, off the court, and other than that, I let things play out,” Davis said. “I just tried to give myself the best chance to make the team and do things exactly how they wanted me to do them. Everything else was out of my control so I just stayed within myself and feel good that I’m here and on the team.”
Davis said he was told last Friday just before the Wizards’ preseason game against Chicago that he had made the team, and described it as gratifying.
“It was a long year for me with rehab,” he said after today’s practice. “So I’m excited for this year. It was frustrating with surgeries, and this league doesn’t wait for anybody. You go out and there’s five other guys ready to step up. It’s been a long raod back and now that I’m back I’m ging to work a little harder to stay here.”
Said Flip Saunders: “Paul’s played well. He’s had some opportunities. We’ve played some teams where you’ll need a fifth big early in the season. So, we’ll see. Outside of saying he’ll be on the active roster to start with, that might fluctuate depending on who we play and what is needed, and that’s kinda how it is in this league with the situation of the inactive list.”
In other Wizards’ news, Antawn Jamison was on the court shooting left-handed foul shots while he waits for the team’s medical staff to clear him to resume shooting with his left arm.
He’s hoping, however, that he won’t have to do so for much longer.
“Hopefully tomorrow, they’ll let me shoot and just gradually progress and everything is going according to plan. The range of motion is there. I’ve been lifting for the last week or so. I feel pretty good. Now it’s just being patient and continuing to go with the program and being healthy.” Jamison said his shoulder feels fine, but the hardest part of this whole process has been having to be inactive. “You know me, I’m always trying to get out there as quickly as possible, but this something that’s very serious,” he said. “If it comes out again, they talking about surgery or something like that. I defitinte don’t want that to happen again.
“Just hearing that makes me realize that I got to make sure that everything is where it needs to be, see the doctors and make sure that everything is OK because I feel like I can play right now. That’s just my mindframe,” Jamison continued. “It’s going to be tough, but I’m haflfway there, I hope it can speed up a little bit and get out there earlier. The strength is there, its just making sure the swelling is gone and the tendons heal in the right places, so it wont pop out again.”
Once he’s finally healthy and the Wizards have regained the progress they were building during the preseason by having Arenas, Jamison and Butler back together, Jamison expects his team to surprise people.
“Me as an individual, I love to prove people wrong,” Jamison said. “We had one bad year. Before that, not at full strength, we were still making the playoffs. You had your starting center, your starting guard, starting point guard, we don’t make excuses. Things went the worst they could possibly go last year. They still feel that wth the moves we made and everybody healthy that we still cant make it or we not that significant of a team, I can’t wait to prove people wrong and sit back in early June and have a smile on my face.
“This team is definitely a playoff caliber team,” Jamison added. “Our biggest question is, is this a championship caliber team. I hope in a couple of weeks, I can get back out there and we can start something that we want to finish later in the seasn. It’s going to take steps. We was getting to that point.”