Lakers Plotting Next Move as Anthony Davis Free Agency Looms

Anthony Davis of the Lakers

Getty Anthony Davis of the Lakers

Anthony Davis will be entering his fifth season as a Laker, comfortably under contract for the year at $40.6 million. He is under contract for next season, too, at $43.2 million, but that’s where things get dodgy. Davis has an early-termination option on of the final year of his deal, and could choose to become a free agent next summer—in fact, it would be a near-certainty that Davis does opt out, looking for a long-term deal in 2024.

Of course, the Lakers can get out in front of that issue by locking up Davis on a contract extension this summer, avoiding the specter of free agency. The start date for negotiations on an extension for Davis kicks in this Friday, and the Lakers can offer Davis a full max deal worth three years and $170 million.

According to Brian Windhorst at ESPN, the expectation is that the Lakers will make Davis an offer in that neighborhood this week. “There’s no time crunch on that,” Windhorst said on the Hoops Collective podcast. “Anthony Davis has not got to make a decision by August 5 or anything. But I do think there is an expectation that the Lakers do make some sort of offer this week, or at least show their intention to make such an offer.”

Davis Dominates — When Healthy

It will be interesting to see what kind of offer L.A. puts forward to Davis, who has been one of the best big men in the NBA for the entirety of his career—when he is healthy, at least. He had his best season as a Laker last year when he averaged 25.9 points, 12.5 rebounds (a career high), 2.0 blocks and 56.3% shooting from the field (also a career high).

Davis missed 26 games last year, mostly with foot and back injuries, which is a sizable portion of the season, yet it ranks as the healthiest year he has had since he came to L.A. Davis was healthy throughout the Lakers’ run into the Western Conference finals last year, a change from the previous two seasons.

In all, Davis has played 194 out of 307 games since coming to Los Angeles, and given the fact that he is now 30 years old and more susceptible to injury, the Lakers surely have some trepidation in committing to a full max contract for Davis.

Pelinka on Davis: ‘He’s Been an Incredible Leader’

Yet, in the end, that is probably just what the team will do. Despite Davis’ proclivity for injury, his talent makes him worth the payout, as well as his link to fellow star LeBron James, who also could be a free agent next summer, with a $50 million option for 2024-25.

If James decides to retire or leave the team in the next few years, the lakers would still have the option of trading Davis and getting a star back in return.

Team president Rob Pelinka spoke about Davis at Summer League, though league rules forbade him from discussing any plans for an extension. “Can’t really talk about contracts and negotiations, but couldn’t think more highly of Anthony Davis as a Laker and as a player,” Pelinka said. “He’s helped deliver a championship to our franchise.

“He’s been an incredible captain and leader. We saw last year, willing to play through a hard foot injury to get our team to the Western Conference finals. So, just love having him as a part of our team.”

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