LOS ANGELES -- It's no secret the Clippers wouldn't mind trading Baron Davis and the two years and $28.8 million left on his contract after this season. It's no secret that, with Davis' production way down, Eric Bledsoe is the Clippers' point guard of the future.
But what could be considered a surprise is how gung-ho Davis is about wanting to remain with the team.
"It's tough because it's the nature of the business,'' Davis said in an interview with FanHouse before the Clippers' 108-103 win over Phoenix on Sunday about the trade rumors surrounding him. "But it's tough because I don't want to leave. I'm here. I came here for a reason. If I were to be traded, I just think that I just never really got a chance to do what I was signed here to do.''
Davis, a native of Los Angeles, signed a five-year $65 million contract as a free agent in the summer of 2008 with his hometown team.
"I just look at it like you brought me here and you got to give me an opportunity,'' said Davis, who is averaging just 8.8 points and 6.3 assists, the lowest numbers since his rookie season of 1999-2000. He has battled a left knee injury and claims by Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro that he didn't report to training camp in proper shape.
"I just want to (have an) opportunity to establish something with this core unit and this group and then we'll keep going,'' he added.
With Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon emerging as stars, Davis, 31, says he finally likes the cast the Clippers have after several seasons of constant turmoil. That's why he wants to see it through.
"This is the first year I've been here where we haven't had any trades,'' said Davis, making $13.05 million this season. "The first year (2008-09) they wiped the whole roster clean after seven games (Zach Randolph was the primary piece acquired after the 11th game in a deal in which the Clippers dispatched Cuttino Mobley and Tim Thomas).
"... Last year, we were right there and then they dismantled the team (referring to trades of Marcus Camby and Al Thornton). For me, it's like it hasn't been a real stable situation."
However, there is more promise this season.
"Now, it looks like we have some stability, it would be great to just be here and now take this unit, if this is the unit that we're going to have, to take this team into the future for the next 2 ½ years that I'm here, and make this a winning organization," Davis said. "And I know that I can do that and I will do that now knowing that there's stability.''
Del Negro didn't rule out that Davis could be moved if it helped the Clippers.
"Of all the things that are out there, how many really come true?'' Del Negro told FanHouse about trade rumors surrounding Davis. "There's always going to be trade rumors. Just be happy you're wanted. You only can play for one team. So, if there's a situation out there that we feel can better our team, obviously we're going to look at it. ... Baron's been through this. He's a veteran guy. He's been traded a few times. So he knows what the deal is, and I'm sure he'll handle it the right way.
"There's nothing that I know about right away (about Davis being traded). I'm just saying there's a lot of talk out there, not only with Baron, but Phoenix just made a trade, Orlando just made a trade. There's things out there all the time that are going to happen. But we're no different than anybody else. We're going to look at things, whether it's Baron or anybody else, that we think helps our team long term. But I like our young players. We just got to mature.''
Davis believes he can help in that regard. Although his stats are way down from when he averaged 15.3 points and 8.0 assists last season, he has played better lately.
Davis has averaged 11.5 points and 7.2 assists the past six games, including 15 and 9 Sunday. The Clippers (9-22), meanwhile, have won four of their last five after a dreadful, injury-riddled start.
"For me, the way I look at it is, it's been up and down,'' Davis said when asked if overall he believes he's been a disappointment since signing the lucrative deal with the Clippers. "It's hard to play when you don't know who's going to be in the locker room, if you're getting traded, if they're getting traded and you're playing with different people every 20 games. Or every 30 games. It's a different team so you never really establish yourself.''
But Davis likes how the Clippers are playing now. Even if the playoffs don't happen this season, the two-time All-Star is optimistic about the second half.
"I can see us, the second half of the season, towards the end of the season, being one of the talked-about teams going into next year,'' he said.
He wants to still be around then. Davis, whose minutes are down from 33.6 to 25.6 per game, insists his diminished role is not frustrating.
"Just a slow start,'' said Davis, who has missed 14 games due to a sore left knee and, while now starting, has come off the bench in eight of his 17 games played. "Some injuries. Coming off the bench. Playing reduced minutes. Trying to just get everything intact. I think that's why my numbers is where it is. I'm not really worrying about my numbers because I'm just trying to focus in on being a good floor general.
"I know I can get numbers as I continue to get my quickness and continue to get my jumping ability back. ... Right now, I think that what this team needs from me is the ability to manage a game and control the floor and get guys open shots. ... I just got to keep working and become more aggressive. I haven't been that aggressive. I just want to master the floor game. ... If it takes me to sacrifice my offense and become a better defender and a better floor general for this team to win, then I'm all for it.''
Davis spoke at length with FanHouse last month about how his left knee has continued to bother him since he had arthroscopic surgery in February 2007. He said he's feeling better now.
But Del Negro reiterated how Davis was not properly fit entering training camp.
"I think Baron knew he wasn't in the perfect shape coming into the season,'' Del Negro said. "But I do give Baron a lot of credit in terms of gutting it out. And he did have an injury. He's feeling better now. It's hard to play when you're injured. You have to be healthy, and he knows that, and he's starting to get it now a little bit. Hopefully, he can stay that way because when he's out there it makes a difference. And he knows how important he is to the other guys.
"I've tried to do everything I can to put Baron in a situation where he's comfortable and give him the reins of the team a little bit. It's just that his conditioning early and then his health hasn't been able to do that. When you rely on some of the young players, it puts a lot of pressure on everybody. ... He's grinding it out and doing a good job for us (lately). So, hopefully, it's just small steps as we move forward.''
Whether Davis still will be taking such steps with the Clippers come the Feb. 24 trade deadline remains to be seen. The way Davis has played overall this season and the huge number of dollars left on his contract makes him difficult to move.
Davis, though, says he wants to stay. At least that's a consolation for the Clippers if he can't be traded.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson