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Anthony Davis is a center in the minds of pretty much everybody except Anthony Davis. He stated his preference for the power forward position as soon as he arrived in Los Angeles, and while the Lakers have given him minutes at center in high-leverage situations, they have largely preferred to play him along with a traditional big man.

But that still hasn't stopped him and the team from batting the idea of a full-time position switch around just about every offseason. Last summer, it was widely assumed he'd move to center to facilitate Russell Westbrook. When opening night arrived, DeAndre Jordan was the starting center. The Lakers signed Thomas Bryant and Damian Jones this offseason ostensibly to play the center position so Davis wouldn't have to. Yet Lakers coach Darvin Ham dipped his toes into the Davis-at-center waters this week.

"A.D. [starting] at the five is under heavy consideration," Ham said at Monday's practice. In Thursday's preseason game, Davis started at center in a small lineup that appeared to be a preview of what we might see in the regular season. Alongside Davis were LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Patrick Beverley and Lonnie Walker IV. The Lakers lost that game to the Timberwolves, 118-113.

For his part, Davis said after the game that he will play wherever coach Ham puts him ... but that his preference remains power forward. "I trust Coach's decision," Davis said. "I mean, I'm pretty sure he heard A.D. wants to play the 4, so he knows where I stand, but at the end of the day, I want to win, so if that's me playing the 5, that's what it's got to be."

Davis gives some variation of this answer every offseason. When the season begins, he is always at power forward. As the season progresses, it becomes clear that the Lakers play best when he's at center. And then the cycle begins anew in the following offseason as the Lakers balance their desire to maximize Davis with his own desire to play power forward.

It's a tricky balance, especially on a roster as flawed as this one. With Westbrook eating up $47 million in salary, the Lakers are simply not deep enough to win playing suboptimal lineups. That might be what is compelling Ham to explore Davis-at-center lineups earlier than usual. Only time will tell how consistently he's willing to use them, and how much of them Davis is willing to tolerate them.