Apparently LeBron James isn’t the only player with pull in the Los Angeles Lakers front office.
According to Ramona Shelburne, newly acquired big man Anthony Davis is already making an impact on roster decisions.
Shelburne told her ESPN colleague Stephen A. Smith on his radio show Monday that Davis lobbied the front office to sign Dwight Howard in the aftermath of DeMarcus Cousins’ ACL tear.
It seems he doesn’t want to bang with centers like Nikola Jokic and Rudy Gobert.
“The reason that Dwight is a Laker is because Anthony Davis doesn’t want to play the five,” Shelburne said, via Silver Screen and Roll. “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, (Jusuf) Nurkic or any of the centers you want to name out West.”
Being a transcendent player has its benefits.
It makes sense that the Lakers would listen to Davis’ concerns here, in that a happy, healthy Davis is best for all parties. Listed at 6-10 and 253 pounds, Davis is more than capable of playing center. An elite defender, he can guard the rim as well as anybody in the league not named Gobert.
But Davis’ talents are many, and allowing him to stretch the floor as a power forward while protecting his body from the rigors of regular post play against the league’s strongest bodies is a recipe for success and perhaps a longer career.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis through the years
LeBron James and Anthony Davis through the years
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) and New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) after an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Sunday, March 31, 2019. The Lakers won 130-102. (AP Photo/Tyler Kaufman)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 18: LeBron James #23 and Anthony Davis #23 of Team LeBron celebrate after winning the NBA All-Star Game 2018 at Staples Center on February 18, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 21: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts in front of Anthony Davis #23 of the New Orleans Pelicans after a 112-104 Laker win at Staples Center on December 21, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 21: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers guards Anthony Davis #23 of the New Orleans Pelicans during a 112-104 Laker win at Staples Center on December 21, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - FEBRUARY 16: Anthony Davis and LeBron James attend the Klutch 2019 All Star Weekend Dinner Presented by Remy Martin and hosted by Klutch Sports Group at 5Church on February 16, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Dominique Oliveto/Getty Images for Klutch Sports Group 2019 All Star Weekend)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 15: NBA Players Anthony Davis (L) and LeBron James attend GQ & LeBron James NBA All Star Party Sponsored By Samsung Galaxy And Beats at Ogden Museum's Patrick F. Taylor Library on February 15, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for GQ)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: (L-R) LeBron James #6, Kevin Durant #5, Anthony Davis #14 and Carmelo Anthony #15 of the United States celebrate after they won against Spain during the Men's Basketball gold medal game on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympics Games at North Greenwich Arena on August 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James, right, smiles as he walks past New Orleans Pelicans' Anthony Davis during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Dec. 21, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
New Orleans Pelicans' Anthony Davis (23) keeps the ball from Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James (23) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Cleveland, Friday, March 30, 2018. James scored in double figures for his 867th consecutive game, eclipsing the old mark of 866 held by Michael Jordan.(AP Photo/Phil Long)
FILE - In this Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016 file photo, Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James, right, steals the ball from New Orleans Pelicans' Anthony Davis in the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)
Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) drives past New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 22, 2014, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)
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Howard, meanwhile, is well suited for the role. A strong, big-bodied center, Howard was one of the league’s best defenders and rebounders in his prime. Despite the criticism he’s endured as a late-career journeyman, he’s remained effective on both fronts, averaging 12.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game in his most recent healthy season with the Charlotte Hornets in 2017-18.
Injuries limited him to nine games last season with the Wizards. But if he can remain healthy, he can play a valuable role in the Lakers rotation.
A big part of that value will be limiting the physical toll of the game on the Lakers superstar big man.