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Anthony Davis doesn’t care about perception of dysfunction within Lakers, says he’s just focused on leading team to title with LeBron James

Anthony Davis might want to put the Lakers dysfunction behind him, but it still matters — especially if he sticks around long-term.

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Los Angeles Lakers Introduce Anthony Davis - Press Conference Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers came insanely close to proving to everyone that the margins don’t matter this offseason, and would have pulled it off had the Clippers not swung a trade for Paul George in order to land Kawhi Leonard in free agency.

Noise in part created by Lakers dysfunction has been seemingly impossible to miss all summer, but Anthony Davis has done his best to ignore it. Davis was asked whether he and LeBron James have spoken at all about the experience of going through last year, a season that featured far-too-public trade talks, an abrupt resignation and allegations of backstabbing — and that’s all before we get to the Rambii.

He says it hasn’t come up.

“We haven’t talked about it, and that’s not my concern. I wasn’t here last year when they were saying this and that, so that’s not my problem. I’m here now, I haven’t seen any of it, so I’m happy to get started and take this season head-on with the goal of winning a championship,” Davis said at his introductory press conference on Saturday.

Had the Lakers signed Leonard, the point Davis is making would be inarguable. Even as it stands, there’s something to whether stars care at all about the work on the margins their team does. It’s outright laughable to think NBA superstars care even a little about future second rounders or pick protections.


No. No they should not, generally speaking.

Like Ron Weasley once (very problematically) said about House Elves: The best house elves are so good at their jobs that you hardly notice they’re there at all. The same can be said about team executives.

Basically, the best organizations are so well-run that stars never have to worry about the minutiae, and any organizational troubles that make it all the way up to ladder to the point where a star has to concern himself with them are outright failures — with Magic Johnson’s abrupt resignation as the utmost example of such a snafu.

Until the Lakers prove that they’re one of those organizations that handles their business in such a way that stars hardly notice they’re there until they have to interact, quite frankly, Davis should talk to James about what last season was like.

Davis is apparently committed to stick around long-term, and if that’s the case, the Lakers have quite a ways to go to prove to him they are worth such a commitment.

Again, had Leonard signed with the Lakers, it would’ve signaled a gigantic discrepancy between the way outside analysts evaluate a situation and what stars actually care about. But that isn’t what happened. Leonard chose the Clippers, who’ve done everything right by outside standards.

Steve Ballmer brought in Jerry West hired an impressive front office. He appears to have paid handsomely to keep that front office intact. It would appear those things at least kind of mattered to Leonard.

There’s also the dynamic between Leonard and James — questions about Leonard potentially being perceived as his sidekick, even if that wasn’t functionally true — to point to that might have precluded the Lakers from ever really having a chance at Leonard in the first place, but if that was the case, the Lakers likely would have known from the get-go they never had a shot and wouldn’t have waited around the way they did.

Or maybe Leonard just wanted to be a Clipper the whole time and forced that front office to trade for Paul George as part of his decision to play there. But that would be explicit acknowledgment that a superstar wanted to go to the Clippers all along even while the Lakers — with LeBron James and Anthony Davis — were a very viable option.

If someone would have outlined that scenario to me over any portion of my lifetime before this, I would’ve called the person outlining said outcome insane. It’s just never happened before now, and now that is has, hopefully, the Lakers take it as a wakeup call and start prioritizing those marginal moves that put the organization in a better place.

It’s also worth pointing out that Davis was not going to go into detail about his concerns about Rob Pelinka, Jeanie Buss, the Rambii or any other organizational issues in front of cameras and the media corp. at his introductory press conference. If he and James share those concerns, he absolutely wasn’t going to throw any conversation about them into the public forum. It just wouldn’t make sense.

Furthermore, Davis’ very presence on this roster is a detraction from the idea of any of this stuff mattering. Maybe his interest in the Lakers was born out of some nudging from James, Rich Paul and the rest of Klutch sports, but at the end of the day and as he points out, he’s a Laker despite all this noise. But if he and the Lakers want to optimize their time together, Pelinka and the rest of the organization will have to figure a few of these marginal things out.

Until the Lakers earn the benefit of the doubt, Davis should be wary about their ability to operate at a high level. If he sticks around beyond this season, at some point, the Lakers will have to pair him with another superstar (James won’t be around forever). When that time comes, the Lakers will probably have to appear more stable than they’ve been so as to entice such a star.

The Lakers have made some improvements in this regard, though, to be absolutely fair. They tried adding Ron Adams to Frank Vogel’s coaching staff. They succeeded in hiring Phil Handy, one of the league’s most respected player development coaches. They brought back Judy Seto, and while she has obvious ties back to Kobe Bryant, she is widely renowned in her field. Hopefully, this trend will continue throughout the organization.

And in the best-case scenario, such hires and moves will become the regularity and not the exception — to the point where Davis, James and whichever other star signs alongside them eventually don’t have to care, and won’t even get asked about it.

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