Baron will be in Golden State

Yes, Baron Davis is scheduled to be in Oakland with the team Sunday for its first game up in the Bay Area this season. He just likely won’t be in uniform after suffering a little setback this week, trying to work himself back into shape.

So those who bought tickets for his big return will at least get to wave at him and see what color scarf he’s wearing.

More Baron

I was able to catch up with Baron Davis before today’s game, the most extended conversation he’s had with the media in the last month or so. Anyway, in addition to the column I filed, here’s a few extra quotes from BD.

After avoiding the spotlight for a few weeks, Davis was very candid before Wednesday’s game and, dare I say, even a bit chipper. He spoke about this season, his injuries, and his reaction to criticism that he’s been out too long with his latest injury.

“The rush is to play. At a certain point, you have to stop paying attention to your record and play when you can. For me, the first opportunity I get to play, I want to get out there.

“I wanted to play in the Minnesota game. I was like just give me 10 minutes coach, that’s all I need is ten minutes. Not being able to do something you do every day of your life is tough, no matter what the record is.”

When asked how he felt about criticism that he’s taken a while to come back from his latest injury, Davis calmly defended his record.

“A lot of you don’t know but a lot of my career, I played in games being hurt. You go back to my days in Charlotte when I played with cartilage in my knee, playing with herniated disks in my back for the entire season,” Davis said. “Me playing hurt is something that I’ve always done. but as you get older, you become a little bit wiser and you understand, do you want to miss five to seven games, or do you want to miss 40 games.

“I’ve got thick skin. The people who know me, the people who’ve been around me. you could ask our trainers how hard I work, how much I want to be out there on that floor.”

Advice for Mr. Jordan

Clippers rookie DeAndre Jordan said after his breakout 23-point, 12-rebound game against the Lakers whether he knew he had that kind of performance in him.

“I’m just as surprised as you all,” he said with a laugh.

Not everyone was so blase.

Jordan’s monster dunks even seem to have caught the eye of the league’s reigning MVP.

“He has a lot of talent man,” Kobe Bryant said after the game. “He’s just got to keep on working hard to improve the other aspects of his game, shooting in particular. He’s got a lot of potential.”

Mid-Season Report

RECORD: 9-31 (14th in Western Conference).
SCORING LEADER:Zach Randolph (23.1 points per game).
REBOUNDING LEADER: Marcus Camby (13.8 rebounds per game).
ASSISTS LEADER: Baron Davis (8.0 assists per game).

MVP: Without a doubt, Marcus Camby. While Baron Davis has been missing in action for large chunks of the season and disappointing as a leader, Camby has continued to lead by example no matter how dire the circumstances. He’s averaging a career-high in rebounds and scoring more than anyone knew was possible. If he hadn’t hurt his ankle on Saturday, the campaign for Camby to earn an All-Star nomination would be swelling.

TOP NEWCOMER: Rookie Eric Gordon is reminding everyone of a young Mitch Richmond. Already the team’s top perimeter defender, he began to showcase an electric offensive game once joining the starting lineup at the end of November.

BIGGEST SURPRISE: When the Clippers made their blockbuster deal for Zach Randolph in mid-November, guard Mardy Collins was regarded as little more than a throw-in. But with virtually all of the Clippers backcourt on the sidelines with injuries, Collins has flourished as a starter, averaging 13.4 pints and 6.6 assists in his seven starts.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: It’s so hard to pick just one, with Ricky Davis getting hurt, then being suspended for violating the league’s drug policy; Chris Kaman’s injured foot keeping out of action since late November and Baron Davis shooting a career-low 36 percent, then missing 10 games due to injury. But considering the fanfare following Baron Davis’ free agent signing in July, this dubious distinction has to fall on him.

GUARDS: If not for promising rookies Eric Gordon and Mike Taylor, this would be, by far the team’s most disappointing area. Both Davis’ — Baron and Ricky — have posted career-worst seasons and veteran Jason Hart largely ineffectual. But Taylor was looking like one of the steals of the draft before fracturing his thumb; and Gordon looks like a future All-Star. Grade: D

FORWARDS: Second-year forward Al Thornton has had an up-and-down season, with moments of brillance and equal parts inconsistency. Zach Randolph was outstanding in the 14 games he played following his November trade, but has been hurt since December 22. Second-year man Steve Novak can shoot the lights out, but only done so a handful of times. Camby saves this group with is All-Star caliber play. Grade: B

CENTERS: Chris Kaman has been out since November 29 and was woefully inconsistent in the 15 games he played before that. Brian Skinner has proven to be a solid veteran and rookie DeAndre Jordan has shown potential. Kaman’s absence though, has hamstrung the entire team’s development. Grade: D-

COACH: Coach Dunleavy seemed to have trouble meshing his structured style with Baron Davis’ free-wheeling style early in the season, which landed the team in an early season hole. Then came the big trade for Randolph in November, further shaking up the lineup, and the injuries, which forced Dunleavy to play reserve players big minutes. Hard to evaluate at this point, but they do seem to be competing harder now than earlier in the season. Grade: D+

GENERAL MANAGER: On paper, Dunleavy and his staff have done an exceptional job of acquiring talent for virtually nothing from teams looking for salary-cap relief. That team though, has yet to take the court altogether. Also, the signings of Baron Davis and Ricky Davis and trade for Jason Hart haven’t worked well. Grade: C

LOOKING AHEAD: If the Clippers ever get healthy, they have the talent to get on a roll in the second-half of the season. That’s a big “If” though. None of their myriad injuries seems particularly bad at first, but they always seem to turn into long ordeals. The best the team can hope for is extended playing time for its young players like Gordon, Jordan, Thornton and Taylor and to get its full team back onto the court and building chemistry for next season.