Davis joins Lak­ers with ti­tle plans

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Sports - By GREG BEACHAM

EL SEGUNDO — An­thony Davis’ year of un­cer­tainty fi­nally felt fin­ished when he stood in the Los An­ge­les Lak­ers’ train­ing com­plex and proudly held up his new gold jer­sey while Le­Bron James looked on ap­prov­ingly.

After months of up­heaval around his de­par­ture from New Or­leans, the su­per­star for­ward is look­ing for­ward to years of suc­cess and sta­bil­ity on the West Coast.

Sure, Davis knows the Lak­ers are rarely sta­ble, and cham­pi­onships are the only suc­cess this fran­chise un­der­stands.

The six-time All-Star can’t wait for the chal­lenge of win­ning big in the Hol­ly­wood spot­light.

“The most dif­fi­cult part for me was just not know­ing,” Davis said Satur­day. “When it was an­nounced that I was be­ing traded, I don’t want to say it was a re­lief, (but) it was some­thing that I’d thought about for a long time. Ob­vi­ously it was tough to leave the city I’d been play­ing in for seven years, but I think it was best for me.

“When I found out I’d been traded to the Lak­ers, I re­al­ized it was an un­be­liev­able op­por­tu­nity for me,” he added. “To be here with

a won­der­ful or­ga­ni­za­tion, and then to be able to play along­side Le­Bron and the play­ers that we have now ... to get the op­por­tu­nity to do that and come here and play for an or­ga­ni­za­tion that’s all about win­ning, and win­ning cham­pi­onships, and that’s the only goal, I think that was the big­gest thing for me.”

The Lak­ers for­mally ac­quired Davis this month in one of the big­gest moves of the NBA’s tu­mul­tuous off­sea­son, but this courtship has been hap­pen­ing for much longer. Davis be­came de­ter­mined to leave New Or­leans last sea­son, and Los An­ge­les made an in-sea­son run at Davis be­fore ea­gerly blow­ing up its young core to get a sec­ond game-chang­ing star to play along­side James.

Lak­ers gen­eral man­ager Rob Pelinka in­tro­duced Davis as “the most dom­i­nant young bas­ket­ball player in the world.”

“There is no more com­plete bas­ket­ball player in the game,” Pelinka added. “There is noth­ing he can’t do. He can shoot. He can make plays. He can de­fend 1 to 5. He can pro­tect the rim. He can han­dle the ball. His ded­i­ca­tion to his craft is un­par­al­leled. To sit here next to him and think he’s go­ing to be on our team and he’s go­ing to be a pil­lar in this fran­chise for many years is just some­thing we’re in­cred­i­bly proud of.”

The Lak­ers gave up Bran­don Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and a slew of draft picks to land Davis one year be­fore he could be­come an un­re­stricted free agent. While Pelinka clearly ex­pects Davis to sign a longterm deal to stay with the Lak­ers, Davis didn’t make a dec­la­ra­tion of his in­ten­tions right away.

“Right now, my fo­cus is on this year, and try­ing to help this or­ga­ni­za­tion be­come a cham­pi­onship team,” Davis said.

Davis’ new jer­sey will bear a No. 3 after his plan to take his usual No. 23 from James fell through thanks to rules in­volv­ing jer­sey sup­plier Nike, who had al­ready be­gun plan­ning for next sea­son with James in the No. 23 shirt. Davis will go back to the num­ber he wore in el­e­men­tary and mid­dle school, although he jok­ingly said the de­nial of No. 23 “was pretty hurt­ful.”

Davis and James have been kept up to speed on Pelinka’s machi­na­tions to build a strong ros­ter around them. Davis strongly en­dorsed the sign­ing of De­Mar­cus Cousins, his for­mer team­mate in New Or­leans — and not just be­cause Davis prefers to play as a power for­ward in­stead of a cen­ter.

“I like play­ing the 4,” Davis said to a laugh­ing coach Frank Vo­gel. “I’m not even go­ing to sug­ar­coat it. I don’t like play­ing the 5, but if it comes down to it, Coach, I’ll play the 5.”

KEVIN REECE/Spe­cial to the Val­ley Press

WEL­COME — The Lak­ers in­tro­duce An­thony Davis at a news con­fer­ence at the UCLA Health Train­ing Cen­ter in El Segundo on Satur­day.

KEVIN REECE Spe­cial to the Val­ley Press

TEAM­MATE Los An­ge­les Lak­ers player Le­Bron James, left, shares a mo­ment with An­thony Davis after a news con­fer­ence in­tro­duc­ing Davis at the UCLA Health Train­ing Cen­ter in El Segundo on Satur­day.

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