In the aftermath of the Lakers’ 2019-20 NBA championship, as players doused each other with champagne in the locker room, reserve guard Quinn Cook had the camera rolling on his Instagram Live, with Anthony Davis next to him. The two were talking about having “15 in,” meaning the entire roster, before Cook said something important: “We’re gonna run it right back.”
That was when Davis, who can be a free agent, offered a tip on what his plans will be in the near future. Echoing Cook, he said, “We’re gonna run it right back.”
Anthony Davis on IG Live: “We’re gonna run it right back.”
AD is an upcoming free agent. pic.twitter.com/3QlxoNDv0m
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) October 12, 2020
In order to “run it back,” of course, Davis would have to stay put in Los Angeles. He has the ability, though, to opt out of the final year of his current deal and hit free agency this year. If he opts in for next season, he can be a free agent in 2021, a scenario that would most benefit the Lakers’ pursuit of back-to-back titles.
Consider that a confirmation, though unofficial: Davis is planning on coming back with the Lakers to defend this championship.
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When he had been asked about possible free agency on Sunday night in the wake of the Lakers’ Game 6, series-clinching win over the Heat, Davis dodged the question, saying, “I have no idea. I don’t know.”
Anthony Davis Has Three Options
It is unclear whether Davis intends to simply opt in or if he and the Lakers have some agreement to have him hit free agency and re-sign immediately with the team. The first option would be to keep his contract exactly as it is, which might make sense because there is uncertainty around the league’s revenues after the season was interrupted and finished without fans.
Fans make up about 40% of revenue by some estimates, and losing that money should cut into next year’s salary cap. A cap hit will reduce the amount the Lakers can pay Davis, even if they give him the maximum allowed.
The second option is to opt out with the understanding he will sign a long-term deal with the Lakers.
Davis already had the opportunity to sign an extension with the team, worth $146 million over four years, but turned it down in January. That move made sense at the time because, if not for COVID-19, he could have signed for significantly more as an unrestricted free agent under normal circumstances.
The Lakers offered Anthony Davis a 4-year, $146 million max extension on Tuesday, but they were informed that he will be bypassing an extension in favor of entering unrestricted free agency, per @ChrisBHaynes
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) January 7, 2020
The Lakers can still give Davis a max offer, and surely will. But he probably could do best for himself financially to push off signing a long-term deal until the league’s financial picture is clearer.
The third option is for Davis to opt out and investigate free agency. There has been speculation that he might do so, though nothing concrete. And his plans to “run it back” would appear to negate this option.
Anthony Davis on Being a Champion: ‘Not Everyone Can Say That’
In a subtle way, Davis might have indicated that he planned to stay this week, when he was talking about having become a champion with the Lakers, after being traded from the Pelicans last summer.
“It’s just part of your legacy, to say you’re a champion,” Davis said. “Not everybody can say that. I wanted to do the same thing in New Orleans. I was there for seven years. You want to go out there and compete for a championship every time you step on the floor.
“It just puts a bigger target on your back, honestly. Teams are going to come after you next year, especially when you’re one of the top players. Guys want to take out the champion. The next four or five years, you have to get better and better. I have to keep improving my game and hopefully I can have this feeling again.”
Other guys want to take out the champion—as long as you are still playing for the champion next year.