When LeBron James signed with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018 NBA free agency, it marked the first time he was not playing with another All-Star player in eight seasons.
With a max-contract slot still available, James remained confident the Lakers could land one via free agency or trade and it eventually resulted in Anthony Davis on July 7.
Although James is extremely motivated to show he is still the best player right now after a down season, Davis is the next face of the league once his new teammate retires.
Along with offering his No. 23 jersey to Davis, James reportedly informed the Lakers to make him the team’s focal point, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:
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.
As Davis was the focal point of the New Orleans Pelicans for seven seasons, he is honored that James is willing to make that type of sacrifice, according to Haynes:
“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.”
Heading into his 17th season, James is coming off the most significant injury of his career and missed the playoffs for the first time since the 2004-05 NBA season with the Cleveland Cavaliers. While there were reports about James being the team’s starting point guard, the reality is he will still be the primary ballhandler for head coach Frank Vogel.
With one year remaining on Davis’ five-year, $127 million deal, James and the Lakers are doing everything possible to ensure he is comfortable in Los Angeles. Along with James’ sacrifice, the Lakers have honored Davis’ request to play power forward instead of center during the regular season.