Magic’s Glen Davis eager to return, but must pace himself

ORLANDO, Fla. — Glen Davis would like to be able to smile more often and carry less weight.

Most of all, he’d like to be a fully contributing component of the Orlando Magic for the first time since fracturing his left foot during a game Jan. 30 at New York. But after a setback in July required another surgery on the same foot, his on-the-court involvement at training camp is largely limited to taking stationary jump shots after practice while a member of the team’s training staff feeds him the ball.

“It’s one of the most difficult things I’ve probably ever done,” Davis said. “There are days when I walk in here and I feel like I can run, and you’ve got somebody telling you, ‘Hey, hey, hey, you can’t do that.’ It gets frustrating, but you understand at the end of the day what you’re trying to accomplish. I just want to get back to the floor, just want to get back to the game. As long as I can do that, everything will be OK.”

Magic general manager Rob Hennigan said Monday that “we hope to have him back within the next few weeks” for practice. No timetable has been projected for the 6-foot-9 forward’s return to game action, with Hennigan adding, “We’re going to intentionally leave that nebulous.”

The Magic’s first preseason game is next Wednesday night in Jacksonville against the New Orleans Pelicans, with their regular-season opener taking place Oct. 29 at Indiana.

Davis, who was acquired from the Boston Celtics in December 2011 after the NBA lockout ended, is every bit as vague as Hennigan on how well his foot is healing.

“I could feel great two weeks from now, or I could not feel great,” he said.

But there are other subjects on which he is straightforward, including his weight. While Davis hasn’t been leading an entirely sedentary existence, he would like to lose between 20 and 30 pounds on a body that he said is currently around 305 pounds.

“I haven’t been 280 since, like, sixth grade,” said Davis, whose nickname of Big Baby was given to him at the age of 9 by a youth league coach.

And he doesn’t consider it crazy that, if healthy, he could help the Magic contend for a playoff spot in an Eastern Conference that is up for grabs beyond the top half-dozen teams. While they finished with the worst record in the league last season at 20-62, the Magic were 12-13 when Davis sprained his left shoulder in the closing moments of a victory over the Washington Wizards. By the time he returned in mid-January, the onslaught of losses had begun.

“You look at our record before I got hurt,” he said. “We were right in the mix. Then we dropped games. It was tough to know that you’re the reason why we’re losing. You want to be there. You want to be a part of the team. You want to be on the floor doing and experiencing those things. It just made me appreciate the game even more.”

Until the Magic signed free agents Jason Maxiell and Ronnie Price over the summer and invited journeyman Solomon Jones to training camp, Davis could have qualified as one of the team’s elder statesmen. He won’t turn 28 until New Year’s Day and said he’d like to play “another six, seven years,” although that clearly is contingent upon his recovery from the type of injury that players fear almost as much as tearing a knee ligament.

All that time in an orthopedic walking boot has left him restless.

“I’ve probably had one month without being in a boot,” he said. “I’ve been locked up. You want to take your time. You want to get those muscles in that foot firing again.”

Whatever running Davis has done has been in a pool at the Magic’s training facilities. He is trying to stay prepared mentally by watching what his teammates are going through in practice, and he would like to think all the free throws he is attempting at the end of workouts will pay off in the long run.

“If I stay healthy, I can shoot 100 percent next year,” joked Davis, who shot 71.8 percent from the line in 34 games last season while averaging 15.1 points and 7.2 rebounds.

The signing of Maxiell and, more importantly, the acquisition and rapid development of Tobias Harris have made the Magic a different team at power forward than when Davis last suited up for them. Even if Maxiell is used primarily to back up center Nikola Vucevic, coach Jacque Vaughn could face a quandary on how to allocate minutes between Harris, Davis and 2012 first-round draft pick Andrew Nicholson.

When Davis was a rookie, he played an integral part in the Celtics’ march to a championship. Now Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are in Brooklyn, and he’s in Orlando reminding himself of that season and hoping he can have a similar effect on players such as Vucevic, Harris and first-round selection Victor Oladipo.

“They’re young,” he said. “They’re still wet behind the ears. They haven’t been in the fight yet. I’ve been in the fight where you’ve got to win to advance. I’ve been able to feel champagne on my face. It’s a great feeling.”    

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