Usually when two superstars join together, a trite debate begins about “whose team” the organization in question is. In the case of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the Los Angeles Lakers, however, it would seem that James is doing everything within his power to welcome Davis to the fold, and make the 26-year-old offseason acquisition feel as though the team belongs to both of them.
First there was James trying to give Davis his jersey number. That was something that he ultimately wasn’t able to make happen, but a nice gesture to start things off nonetheless. Now we are learning that — according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports — James went to Lakers management and asked them to make sure Davis has control of the team’s offense this year:
As soon as the framework for the blockbuster trade was agreed upon with New Orleans in June, James — who will be entering his 17th NBA season — promptly held conversations with higher-ups in the organization and expressed his views on why it’s imperative that Davis becomes the focal point of the team’s offensive identity, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Davis knows that James went to bat for him, and he told Haynes that he’s excited by the faith his fellow star is placing in him:
“I’ve kind of been a focal-point player my whole career, especially in New Orleans. But first off, to have a guy like LeBron, someone of his caliber, go tell management and ownership and the coaches that he wants me to be the focal point is an honor,” Davis told Yahoo Sports. “I know what comes with that, and that’s a lot of heavy lifting. I want to be able to do that. I think I have the capabilities of doing that. And obviously with the team’s support, it’s going to be a lot easier on me. We have a great team.”
Davis has spoken a few times of late about how far he sees the Lakers being able to go, and the cohesion between he and James will ultimately go a long way towards determining this team’s ceiling. It would seem James is aware of that, and is trying to empower Davis and make him feel as welcome as possible in his new home. That’s not only a great thing for the Lakers’ chemistry this year, but also a gesture that might go a long way towards keeping Davis around even after James is gone.
James saving wear and tear on himself by not fully controlling the offense every possession is a good thing for the Lakers’ postseason hopes as well. Last year the Lakers’ tried to ease the burden on James by signing a bunch of playmakers, but when that didn’t work, James had to seize the wheel. It’s impossible to know for certain if that contributed to his groin injury on Christmas Day, but it’s fair to guess that he and the team probably want to lessen the chances of something like that happening again.
That’s where Davis comes in. With another legit superstar to trust to take control of things offensively, James won’t have to over-exert himself, meaning this is a move that could be a win for him, the team and make Davis happy all at once.
Now, the caveat here is that James has toyed with ceding control of the offense before. First in Miami with Dwyane Wade, and then in Cleveland with Kyrie Irving. In the past, he’s always gone back to being the focal point at the first sign of trouble. The difference now is that he’s going to turn 35 this season, and might finally be ready to give someone else the reins and pick his spots more. Davis’ presence should make that possible, and it seems James has realized as much. We still have to see how it goes, but for now this seems like the type of thing that could be best for all parties involved, and James deserves credit for trying to make it happen.