There has been a long-running assumption around the NBA that the signing of big man Anthony Davis to a long-term contract with the Lakers is a matter of when, not if. The Lakers gave up a haul of young players, including this year’s Most Improved Player, Brandon Ingram, to get Davis from New Orleans and did so with confidence that Davis would stay in Los Angeles for the long-term.
It’s likely he will, especially if the Lakers win this year’s NBA championship. But if not, some questions will open up. With the added pressure of a focus on social justice, one prominent former Bull and current ESPN analyst, Jay Williams, says that Davis could spurn the Lakers and instead return home to Chicago, where he grew up.
“Anthony Davis is coming up, people,” Williams told Heavy’s ‘Scoop B’ Robinson on the Heavy on Lakers Show. “He’s coming up. If the Lakers don’t do it this year, hello, Chicago. That’s where he is from. We’ve got to start pitching to people who want to come back home and rep home.”
Williams was not creating a rumor out of whole cloth with that comment. Davis had suggested he would not rule out the Bulls in free agency this offseason (if he opts out of the final year of his contract, which is not a given) back on All-Star weekend, which was held in Chicago.
“Honestly, it’s nothing like playing at home,” Davis said when asked about playing for the Bulls in an event at his old school, Perspectives Charter School. “I don’t know … I mean, I am a free agent next year, but we’ll see. It’s a possibility.”
That comment was taken with a grain of salt—Davis was speaking at a big NBA event in his home city and he did not want to disappoint hometown fans. But Williams pointed out that did not mean it was not possible.
“People laughed off LeBron going back to Cleveland, didn’t they?” he said. “We live in a new age. Look at what is happening. The Baltimore Ravens came out with a statement, like, what are you doing for your local community? It means something.”
Williams on Anthony Davis: ‘I Would Not Put it Past Him at All, Coming Back to Chicago’
That, of course, is something the Lakers can’t match if the Bulls were to bid in earnest for Davis, who has a strong bond with his home city. Davis does have agent Rich Paul and Klutch Sports, who also represent Lakers star LeBron James and were instrumental in getting him to L.A. from the Pelicans.
But if Davis had to choose his loyalty, would it be to his hometown or his agent and James? Williams said social unrest that has engulfed the country in recent months should be a factor in Davis’ decision, especially with the scourge of gun violence that has gripped Chicago for years now.
Williams, who was the No. 2 pick in the 2002 draft by the Bulls but played only one season before suffering a career-ending motorcycle accident, told Scoop:
If you don’t do things like that, like in Chicago, one of the things I have been hearing people say all the time, especially the opposite side—and I am not going to even say opposite side, I’ll say, people who make counterarguments against Black Lives Matter say, ‘Well, you guys are killing yourselves. Look at Chicago.’ Well, damn. I can break down Jim Crow laws and other aspects of this, as it relates to education and gentrification that preach to that, but for us we have to do things in our local community to affect change. I would not put it past Anthony Davis, because he is a brother that gives back, he wants to be involved. I would not put it past him at all, coming back to Chicago.
Chicago Bulls Have Struggled for Years
As much as Davis might be inclined to help off the floor, the problem for the Bulls right now is that they are terrible on the floor and it would be very difficult to lure an elite free agent with the kind of recent rap sheet this franchise has amassed. They have gone 71-158 in the past three seasons, a .310 winning percentage.
The Bulls have a new general manager, Arturas Karnisovas, and are on the hunt for a new coach to replace the recently fired Jim Boylen. That remains Job One.
“I hope they find the right coach that allows Zach LaVine to actually play,” Williams said. “I want to see Coby White and Zach LaVine actually play together, I want to see Lauri Markkanen take the next step in his career. It will be interesting to see what happens with Wendell Carter, this is not a game for traditional big men but I still think he can help you in spurts. There’s no doubt about it, we need to do it through the draft and bringing in the right people through the front office.”