Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Davis focused on moving ahead with Lakers
By Dave McMenamin
Ed Davis will switch to No. 21 when he joins the Lakers next season.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- After turning down a contract extension offer from the Memphis Grizzlies last fall worth north of $20 million, according to multiple league sources, Ed Davis said he was comfortable with how everything played out after signing a two-year, $2 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday.
“No regrets at all,” Davis said during his introductory news conference. “Everything happens for a reason. I’m not trying to sound cliché, but just looking forward to this opportunity here with this great franchise and just being able to contribute every night.”
Davis, 25, is one of five new players the Lakers have acquired since their miserable 27-55 season ended in April. While he comes to the Lakers at a relatively bargain $1 million annual price tag, Davis has a player option for the second year of his deal and could test the market looking for a more lucrative offer should he put up big numbers in L.A. next season, similar to what Nick Young and Jodie Meeks accomplished this summer.
“As you know we’re working on completion of our roster and we feel we’ve made significant improvements and changes and we’re happy to add a young player with a very promising future who is going to continue to work and develop in this league in Ed Davis,” said Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak before presenting Davis with his No. 21 uniform.
Davis, who wore No. 32 for the Toronto Raptors and the Grizzlies, had to choose No. 21, the number he wore in ninth grade, because No. 32 is retired by the Lakers for Magic Johnson.
The real number Davis is concerned about is how many minutes he will be able to play in L.A. After seeing his career start to blossom during the first half of the 2012-13 season for Toronto -- averaging 9.7 points and 6.7 rebounds in 24.2 minutes per game -- he saw his playing time dip to the 15-minute range in the last season and a half after being traded to Memphis.
“Obviously it’s a great organization, franchise, a lot of history here,” Davis said. “And it’s a young team. I think it’s an opportunity where I can play and help this team win.”
Davis played behind Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph in Memphis and now will likely play backup minutes to Lakers rookie Julius Randle, who has drawn comparisons to Randolph already.
“I think he’s going to be a real good player in this league,” Davis said of Randle. “He kind of reminded me of Zebo a little bit, but he puts it on the floor a little bit better than Zebo.”
He’ll also have competition in the frontcourt in L.A. outside of Randle, with the Lakers re-signing Jordan Hill, winning an amnesty waiver bid on Carlos Boozer and retaining Robert Sacre.
Davis, at 6-10 and 225 pounds, says he brings versatility to the court.
“I think I can play both positions, the four and the five,” Davis said. “I think all the players here are different players and we all complement each other in different ways.”
While Davis hopes to have a breakout season to establish his footing in the league, he said the Lakers did not try to lure him with any promise of guaranteed playing time.
“Not at all,” Davis said. “I think it’s tough to say that without a coach. But I’m just going to work in training camp and earn everything, so, I’m going to be ready.”
The Lakers continue to operate without a head coach in place, nearing the three-month mark since Mike D’Antoni resigned. Kupchak elusively made his way out of the press room immediately after introducing Davis on Wednesday, perhaps to avoid any questions that would come his way concerning the coaching search.
No matter whom it is the Lakers hire, Davis should be able to adapt. He has already played for four coaches in his four seasons in the league -- Jay Triano and Dwane Casey in Toronto and Lionel Hollins and Dave Joerger in Memphis -- and coming to L.A. will guarantee a fifth coach in five seasons.
“It’s going to be my fifth coach this year, but I think the NBA game is pretty much the same, it uses the same terms,” Davis said. “All the coaches use the same terms. But it’s just figuring out what the coaches like every year. They all have their own schemes and stuff like that.”
For any new player coming into L.A., Kobe Bryant figures to be just as influential as the coach to their transition.
Davis shares the same agent as Bryant in Rob Pelinka and has already spoken to the veteran shooting guard over the phone about coming to the Lakers. What did Bryant say to him?
“A couple things,” Davis said. “Keep it private.”
Davis knows that with such an intense media focus coupled with extreme fan expectations in L.A., few things are truly kept private, however. He said there was a similar atmosphere at the University of North Carolina, where he won a championship as a freshman in 2009.
“It definitely motivates you,” Davis said. “Like Carolina and here, they hold you to high expectations. They want to win no matter what, no matter what the situation is. So, it does motivate you in the summertime and it’s a good thing to have that support, to have the big fan base.”
If Davis accomplishes what he is setting out to in L.A. -- protecting the rim on defense, playing multiple positions on the frontline and improving as a player -- those Laker fans will adopt him real quick.
“I feel over these past four years I got a lot stronger,” Davis said. “I grew a lot mentally, just understanding the game because it is a big leap from college to the pros. Then I just feel like I’m going to keep working every day and just continue to build my game and just get better.”