The Los Angeles Lakers officially showcased their biggest free agency acquisition, Anthony Davis, via a press conference at the UCLA Health Training Facility on Saturday.
Davis finally debuted his No. 3 jersey and spoke about many topics including new Lakers teammate LeBron James, who he said has been a close friend before an opportunity to play together presented itself.
Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka opened the presser by thanking many people including Magic Johnson, former president of basketball operations, for his goal to have two superstars, two seasons ago.
“I think that box is checked today with two of the top-five players in all of basketball on our Los Angeles Lakers roster.
Among others, Pelinka also thanked the players involved in the deal, Brandan Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart specifically for their role in the transaction and wished them luck in New Orleans.
“Anytime you make a trade for extraordinary value, you have to give up extraordinary value.” Pelinka said, “And that’s what we think about those three young players.”
Otherwise, Pelinka said it was a ‘history shifting day’ as the Lakers acquired Davis, ‘the most dominant young basketball player in the world.’
Even before L.A. unofficially agreed to trade for Davis earlier this offseason, their was long speculation about Davis joining James with the Lakers. Davis said he and his fellow Lakers all-Star hadn’t talked much about the team specifically. However, A.D. said he and L.B.J. will talk about it as they try to do whatever it takes to make this a championship team next season (James was off to the side during the introductory press conference).
For his career, the 2012 No. 1 pick averaged 23.7 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game with the Pelicans but only made the postseason twice. Last year, Davis averaged 25.9 points, 12 rebounds and 3.9 assists in a season where he played 56 games amidst rumors about where he’d play.
The three-time All-NBA defensive player said the most difficult part about the last few months since he requested a trade from the Pelicans was the unknown about where he would get traded or if he would return to New Orleans.
Well Davis said it was difficult for him to leave the city he was playing in for seven years, the three-time All-NBA player said it was best for him and his time.
What was the biggest part of Davis’ excitement for an opportunity to play with the Lakers?
“To play for an organization that is all about winning, Davis said. “Forget just winning, winning championships that’s the only goal.”
Here is what else we learned from the press conference.
The Brow isn’t talking extension anytime soon
Questions still surround Davis’ future with the Lakers beyond 2019-20 season. Davis can opt out of the final year of his five-year deal after this season.
“When that time comes around next year, then you can ask me that question and we can revisit,” Davis said about his long-term commitment to the Lakers. “Right now my focus is on this year and trying to figure out how I can help this team and organization become a Champion.”
The Brow is set to make $27.1 million this year and can opt into a $28.75 million salary next year or test free agency.
“My goal is to bring a championship here, with the team that we have. ” Davis said about his short time in L.A. so far.
Davis is still a Power Forward
Davis preference for the power forward position won’t change in L.A. He said still likes playing playing power forward and doesn’t really like playing the center.
“I like playing the four,” Davis said with a laugh. “I’m not even gonna sugarcoat it.”
The seven-footer laughed more and said he would play the five if it came down to it. Vogel laughed as well yelling ‘situational.’
“The game has become so position-less, you can put five guys on the floor and they just play,” Davis added.
Pelinka also said he and Davis had conversations about the Lakers adding centers with size and length in free agency like DeMarcus Cousins and JaVale McGee who will join Davis this with the Lakers this year.
Kyle Kuzma will get a major role on the new Lakers
Speaking of the front court, Davis said he is excited to play next to Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma as the two always had great battles. Kuzma was rumored as one of the young players the Lakers wouldn’t give up to get Davis via trade.
“Kuzma is an unbelievable player,” Davis said. “A young player who is steadily growing, always working on his craft. “
Davis also complimented Kuzma saying he can stretch the floor, has post moves, can finish and more.
New Lakers head coach Frank Vogel echoed some of Davis’ compliments about Kuzma’s offense and scoring.
“I’m gonna push him to reach his potential on the defensive end,” Vogel said. “We know he can fill it up and score in every way imaginable.”
The head coach also said he could not be more impressed with Kuzma and expects the young player is going to play a major role for them.
A.D. is excited for reunion with Boogie
Kuzma isn’t the only teammate Davis is excited for as A.D. said he is also looking forward to playing with former Pelicans teammates DeMarcus Cousins in a new and great situation with the Lakers.
“I loved playing with DeMarcus,” Davis said. “Obviously, we never wanted it to end.”
The former Pelican said he knew Lakers free agent acquisition Cousins even before the two All-Stars played together in New Orleans for about a season and a half.
Davis never understood the attention Boogie got for being ’emotional’ before they played together or even now after they spent a season apart as Cousins played with Golden State.
Davis hurt by not getting No. 23 from LeBron
In the days since the trade was reported, LeBron James announced on social media that he was going to let Anthony Davis wear the No. 23 this year. However, Nike distribution issues and James missing the March deadline to change his number officially caused Davis to wear the No. 3 for at least the upcoming season.
“That was pretty hurtful,” Davis said jokingly.
The six-time All-Star told a story about going on NBA 2k and putting the Lakers’ list of available numbers on him but none of the looked right. However, he settled on No. 3 as that was the first number he ever wore in seventh grade.
“I kind of just wanted to take it back to where it all started and put that number back on,” the new Lakers big said.
Anthony Davis is taking control of his career
This past season, Davis became a part of the most recent trend of players demanding out of their current situation even before their contract expires.
“I just wanted to take control of my career.” Davis said when asked about the new era of player empowerment evident with him and other players this offseason.
He said he would listen to other people as a young player. However, he got older, more experienced and wanted to go his own way.
“As long as I can sleep at night and live with decision I made, I’m happy and don’t care what no one else thinks,” Davis said.