Anthony Davis Says He, LeBron James Can Still Be Core for Lakers amid Trade Rumors

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVApril 11, 2022

Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James, Left, and Anthony Davis sit on the bench during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Los Angeles, Friday, April 8, 2022. Neither played because of injury. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
AP Photo/Ashley Landis

Anthony Davis believes he and LeBron James can still be the core of a championship contender but acknowledged something was amiss when the two shared the floor this season.

"I think us two can. We've shown that we can," Davis told reporters Sunday. "I don't know that's something we just have to reevaluate in the offseason, upstairs, me and him talking about this season and what we would like to see next season and kind of just figure it out.

"... [We will] come together as a group ... to get back to championship mentality that we had our first year. So that would be a very interesting conversation just from the standpoint of what changed. I mean, injuries, but even when we were healthy, I don't think we were able to reach our full potential—for whatever reason. So I think we want to figure it out and just get back to that championship pedigree that us as players know we're capable of." 

James and Davis played only 22 games together this season, and the Lakers were a disappointing 11-11 in those contests. They have played only 49 games together combined over the last two seasons because of injuries after being on the floor together 59 times in their championship 2019-20 season.

If you're looking for the biggest issue in the Lakers' roster construction, it starts there. They're built around two players who can't stay on the floor. Davis has played 70-plus games twice in his decade-long NBA career. James has been healthy in exactly one of his four Lakers seasons.

Luck plays a factor into injuries, but availability is a skill that neither Davis nor James possess at this point in their careers. James probably isn't going to become a bastion of health as he approaches age 38 and has the second-most minutes played (regular season and playoffs) in NBA history.

Davis was supposed to be the bridge to the latter years of James' career, but the 29-year-old hasn't proved capable from an availability or skill standpoint. The bubble was the only short period where Davis looked like he could eclipse an aging LeBron as the Lakers' best player, and the 2019-20 campaign was the only one where he pulled his weight as second in command.

The Lakers need to do a better job of building around their two stars, but James and Davis share blame in that, too. They were the ones advocating behind the scenes for a Russell Westbrook trade, a move that proved disastrous and limited the Lakers' ability to have quality role players.

Jettisoning Westbrook will be top priority this offseason as the Lakers look to reload around James and Davis once again, but Davis isn't wrong that there needs to be some self-reflection.