Lakers Writer: L.A. Needs Davis To Play Center

With DeMarcus Cousins' torn ACL, the Lakers must convince Anthony Davis to change positions, which might be easier said than done

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August 16, 2019 - 9:04 am
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DeMarcus Cousins, who tore his left Achilles in January 2018 and his left quad in April, has suffered a torn ACL in his left knee. He could miss the entire 2019-20 NBA season.

“All these areas are connected from your back on down to your ankles,” Southern California News Group Lakers writer Kyle Goon said on Ferrall on the Bench. “When you rupture an Achilles, it’s so difficult to find the right balance of rehab and testing it and getting that back. When you look at somebody like DeMarcus Cousins, who’s 6-11 and 260 pounds, I think it’s just difficult to get that set in the right way. It’s just tricky with big guys when you start even one injury in that chain from your ankles to your back. It’s just tricky to get all the way healthy again.”

Lakers assistant coach Jason Kidd had visited Cousins a few weeks ago and said he looked phenomenal.

“It’s just heartbreaking to see that level of work and effort just reset and having that kind of setback,” Goon said.

Without Cousins, the Lakers will lean more on JaVale McGee. There could also be a position change coming for Anthony Davis.

“I think the Lakers have a bigger job of convincing Anthony Davis that our best look is going to be when you play center,” Goon said. “When you look at the way the NBA is going, when you look at what Anthony Davis can do defensively, and you look at the fit with what the Lakers want to do and where their shooters are – overall the best lineup is going to be with Anthony Davis at the 5. It’s just a matter of convincing him because it’s a more physical role for him, more physical than he wants to play. He said he wants to be a power forward and he’d prefer not to play the 5. I think it will be a year-long job for the Lakers to convince him (to play the 5).”

While fans may think Davis should do whatever the coaches tell him, it’s not that simple. Davis, in fact, holds LeBron James-like leverage this season.

“They traded so much of their future to get him, and they’re going to be sending New Orleans draft picks for years and years,” Goon said. “But in reality, all they have is one year of Anthony Davis under contract. So this is also a year-long recruiting effort to make sure that all that trade value they sent is worth it and that Anthony Davis re-signs in L.A. I think everyone expects him to re-sign in L.A., but as we saw with Kyrie Irving and what happened last year in Boston, unexpected things can happen in this league.

"So it is a tricky balancing act for the Lakers to say we want you to play some more 5, we think we can be successful with you playing the 5 – and at the same time convincing Anthony Davis that the Lakers have his best interests long-term at heart and are willing to play him some power forward so they can re-sign him next summer.”

Click below to listen to Goon’s interview in its entirety.