LOS ANGELES — Anthony Davis might have filled his bank account by signing a five-year, $190 million extension with the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, but one of his teammates now wants him to fill his awards shelf, too.
“I’m expecting AD to go for the MVP,” Lakers forward Jared Dudley said on a videoconference call with reporters Thursday. “I’m expecting him to set the tone. We know [LeBron James], his years playing this league, accolades he has, but AD doesn’t have some of the accolades. He has the talent, he has the determination. … He’s the future and he’s the now.”
Davis, 27, finished sixth in MVP voting last season, his first with the Lakers. His best finish for the award was third in 2017-18.
He’ll have competition in James, who finished second behind Giannis Antetokounmpo for the Maurice Podoloff Trophy last season. James also signed a contract extension with the Lakers this week, a two-year, $85 million deal that will keep him in L.A. through 2022-23.
“We’re led by the best player in the world, and then the second-best player in the world,” Markieff Morris said Thursday, not distinguishing who was best between Davis and James. “Or 1A and 1B, however you want to do it.”
Morris said he re-signed with the Lakers in search of another trophy: the Larry O’Brien, presented to the league champion. Any individual accolade that comes along for the Lakers in 2020-21 would be welcome, of course, but the group’s focus is on repeating.
“Shoot, we have LeBron James,” Kentavious Caldwell-Pope said Thursday. “His mindset and the way he approaches the game, it’s just going to rub off on everybody else. I know he’s coming back ready to compete. Especially for that second championship, and he’s going to let us know from the jump what time it is. As our leader, you got to respect that. For me, I respect that as a young guy looking up to him.
“So, that man, LeBron James, I feel like he’s going to keep it as simple as possible. He’s going to make it simple. He’s our leader and all we got to do is be ready. Be mentally ready and be ready to play.”
Davis, in his first comments since signing the extension Thursday, told Spectrum SportsNet that the championship is already on his mind, as well.
“I’m very motivated, I want to do it again,” Davis said. “When we won the Western Conference finals, Bron said, ‘Just wait until you win a championship and you hold that trophy, your love for winning just grows.’ And ever since holding that trophy, I just want to do it again.
“You want to do hold that trophy over and over and over. You get addicted to winning. So I want that feeling again. I want to hold that Larry O’Brien Trophy again and become a meme where I’m crying and people are using it for everything. Those are good memes.”