It’s a perfectly millennial tale.
Anthony Davis, sitting in a hotel room in Malibu on a Saturday afternoon in June, was laying in bed watching a movie when his agent, Rich Paul, called him. Davis, still a New Orleans Pelican as far as he knew, let the call go to voicemail. He wanted to keep watching the flick, even though he doesn’t remember the name of it.
“Some sailor movie or something like that. I don’t know why it was on, but it was pretty interesting,” Davis said. “I was like ‘Ah, I’ll call him later.'”
Paul rang again. This time, Davis not only didn’t answer, he sent it straight to voicemail.
But then it hit the 26-year-old superstar. After all, his name had only been in trade discussions for months.
“Now I’m blowing up (Paul’s) phone,” he said.
So, when he couldn’t reach Paul, Davis popped open Instagram. That’s when he found out he’d been traded to the Los Angeles Lakers and would be teaming up with LeBron James.
On Saturday, the Lakers introduced Davis in his No. 3 jersey to the media. General manager Rob Pelinka declared him as “the most dominant young basketball player in the world.”
“This is really a history-shifting day for the Los Angeles Lakers,” Pelinka said.
Pelinka reached inside his sports jacket pocket and pulled out a notecard and praised everyone from Lakers ownership to the Pelicans front office to the players Los Angeles traded away – Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart.
The expectations, understandably, are high heading into the 2019-20 season. No longer does the distraction of uncertainty weigh on Davis’ shoulders. He’s exactly where he wants to be.
“And that’s the biggest thing for me,” he said, “the relief of not knowing the unknown anymore and not knowing where I was going to be next season.”
“We want a decade of dominance out of him,” Pelinka said.
Despite missing out on the Kawhi Leonard sweepstakes, Davis believes Los Angeles’ roster can best any team in the league, especially in a balanced Western Conference.
“All the players teaming up and spreading that talent throughout the league, it’s going to be a fun season,” said Davis, who will now live in California year-round instead of only during the offseason. “I like our roster. I like every player that we have, from one through 14. I’m excited about it. I would put our roster against anybody. I think that in a seven-game series we would come out victorious.”
That doesn’t mean Davis didn’t do everything in his power to help the Lakers land Leonard, a two-time Finals MVP. Davis explained that he waived his $4-million trade kicker for good reason.
“Any time you’re able to able to acquire a player like Kawhi, you have to do almost everything to get a guy like that,” he said. “Obviously, it didn’t work out for us but I still wanted to do everything I could to help the team. That $4 million was to add more money to a player’s contract or get another guy and by all means I was willing to do that.”
Pelinka revealed that the front office and the Lakers’ two stars were in constant communication during the free agency process. They saw two routes toward building a winner: adding a third star (Leonard) or through a series of depth moves, which became the Lakers’ reality.
“He and I and LeBron talked so much about ‘How do we want to optimize that space?’” Pelinka said.
Davis said they were talking every day, almost hourly.
The Lakers have already allowed their second superstar into the inner-circle. Now there’s another important aspect of the newfound partnership to tackle.
“Forget winning,” Davis said. “Winning championships. And that’s the only goal.”