Anthony Davis has made it pretty clear that he doesn’t want to play center more than he has to during the regular season, a stance the Los Angeles Lakers seem to be in agreement with their new star big man on. This is all well-documented, and actually not that big of a deal when looked at more closely.
Davis has also let it be known that he’s fine spending more time at the five once the postseason rolls around, but until the Lakers get there, they’ll need other options to soak up minutes. That’s why Dwight Howard is here.
Prior to Howard’s signing, the Lakers had just lost DeMarcus Cousins to a season-ending ACL injury, and their only true center left on the roster was JaVale McGee. And as would make sense given that the Lakers were looking for a player to satisfy Davis’ desire to not play too many minutes at center, it would seem he had some level of influence over the player they eventually chose (via Ramona Shelburne of ESPN during an appearance on “The Stephen A. Smith Show” on ESPN Radio):
“The reason that Dwight is a Laker is because Anthony Davis doesn’t want to play the five. He doesn’t want to play against the big centers in the Western Conference. He needs a big dude next to him that can eat up some of those minutes and take some of that physical pounding from Nikola Jokic or (Jusuf) Nurkic or any of the centers you want to name out West ... Anthony Davis doesn’t want to be that guy, and so he had a big say in whether or not Dwight was going to be cast in this role for them.”
It would seem what Davis said was something along the lines of “yes,” because Howard is here now, and reportedly made his case by convincing Davis and other players that he was willing to take on the challenge of guarding bigger centers like Joel Embiid.
This is also notable because it’s another functional example of how much influence the Lakers are acquiescing to Davis when it comes to roster construction. From giving him and LeBron James say over who the team signed in free agency to seeking his opinion on who he wanted to help him play center less during the regular season, it’s clear that the front office wants Davis to feel like he is a partner here, rather than just an employee.
Moments like this are surely just a small part of their long-term pitch to keep Davis around next summer, but if he values having a say over the roster, this is just another instance that can be looked back on where the Lakers gave him some. If power is something Davis wants, it’s clear he can have that here.