Same old for A.D.?
Antonio Davis soon may be all too familiar with the term, "Be careful what you wish for, because you might get it."
He's a Bull following a trade that sent Davis, Jerome Williams and Chris Jefferies from the Raptors to Chicago for Jalen Rose, Donyell Marshall and Lonny Baxter.
"In some ways, I still can't believe it," Davis said last night in Chicago before the Bulls played host to the Milwaukee Bucks. "I can't believe the deal actually went through.
"I can't ask for anything else. Now I have to show what I'm feeling on the inside on the outside. The fact there is nothing on the outside bothering me right now allows me to relax and do my job to the best of my capabilities."
However, many of the same issues that drove Davis crazy in Toronto have greeted him in the Windy City. Among them:
- At 35, Davis wants to be competing for a championship rather than beginning another quasi-rebuilding project. Arguably, he's further away from a title now than he was last week. And even if you dispute that, it's safe to say neither the Raptors nor the Bulls are going to be fitted for rings any time soon.
- Davis especially did not relish starting a quasi-rebuilding project with a young, high-stress, control-freaky coach like the Raptors' Kevin O'Neill. But Davis' arrival in Chicago has coincided with the arrival of Scott Skiles, a young, high-stress, control-freaky coach who allegedly has the people skills of a charcoal briquette.
- "If it's a young team and you bring them up (with someone like Skiles), maybe it can work," said Suns forward Tom Gugliotta, who played for Skiles in Phoenix. "But with veterans, it's like playing with fire. It could go either way."
Sounds a lot like what people were saying about O'Neill a few months ago. If Davis was uncomfortable with that approach in Toronto, why would he be any more comfortable with it in Chicago?
- Davis grew frustrated because he didn't think the Raptors had a long-term plan, either financially or philosophically. The fact the club changed its cast of big men every season was particularly irksome for him. Davis had longed for a veteran co-anchor beneath the basket ever since Charles Oakley talked his way out of Toronto. But Davis has no veteran co-anchor in Chicago, either. Eddy Curry eventually could be the best centre in the Eastern Conference, as O'Neill has predicted, but presently Curry is a big lunk of a kid. Tyson Chandler is a 7-footer, but he's a spindly adolescent with a bad back. Davis again will find himself in the role of professor rather than peer.
- Many Raptors quietly rolled their eyes at the antics of Williams, whose off-court self-promotion and on-court gambles entertained the fans but occasionally annoyed his teammates. One of the main eye-rollers was Davis. So now, when Davis finally gets his wish and is traded, it's ironic the Dog is nipping at his heels. Let's not overstate this -- Davis and Williams don't hate each other. But if Davis had been given his choice of players to come with him, Williams probably would not have been at the top of the list.
Davis is back with his family, which means a lot to him. His wife and two kids have been in Chicago since last summer.
"We (Davis and his wife Kendra) had been going through this the last two or three years as to whether or not we were going to leave the kids here in the States so that they could go to school or bring them up to Canada," Davis said. "The deciding factor was, were we going to be able to be apart? My wife and I decided it was best for them (to stay in the U.S.). The environment they're in now, surrounded by family, having met a lot of friends this summer, helped them grow. You could see their excitement when they came home from school. There was no way I was going to take them from that environment.
"But all those problems are solved now. Now daddy has to work his tail off so people won't talk about him."
Davis has all the comforts of home. Whether he'll be comfortable with the Bulls as a team remains to be seen.
DOG POUND, MIDWEST CHAPTER
Williams did not want to leave the Raptors, but Bulls general manager John Paxson has assured the Junk Yard Dog he'll be given an opportunity to become as beloved a figure in Chicago as he was in Toronto.
"I loved it there (in Toronto)," Williams said last night. "But I'm a blessed individual. I'm excited I'm with the Bulls. My game isn't going to change. I'm going to have fun on the court and cheer on my teammates. I'm going to definitely miss my dog pound in Toronto, but I think Chicago has some dogs. I'm looking forward to hearing what the dogs have to say here.
"It's always difficult when you put your heart and soul into a team. I loved my time in Toronto. I'll always have a home there and appreciate the people and the fans who supported me. But the Bulls were one of my favorite teams growing up and my little brother is elated I'm playing alongside Scottie Pippen. I'm pretty hyped up myself."