In the wake of winning his first NBA championship, Lakers star forward Anthony Davis was asked to peek ahead at this future. He has one year left on his contract, at $28 million, but he can opt out of that year and hit free agency this summer.
He is facing a tight deadline on deciding about the option—he must let the Lakers know this week what he intends to do. But, he said, not even he was sure what he would do.
“I have no idea,” Davis said on Sunday. “I don’t know.”
Davis has three options.
He could opt in on his contract for next year, which would keep him in L.A. for next season and push his free agency back to 2021. That would be the simplest solution, given the uncertainty around the NBA’s salary cap and its financial future. The league took a major hit when it put its season on hold to help stop the spread of the coronavirus in March and returned in the Orlando bubble without fans.
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The salary cap—and thus Davis’ next contract—is tied to the revenue the league generates. There is still no clarity about how much the league lost and just how much next year’s cap will suffer because of it. By taking the $28 million, Davis is gambling that he can get a bigger deal the following year, when (hopefully) revenue jumps back up.
That would be beneficial for the Lakers because it would leave Davis as a free agent heading into the 2021 offseason, allowing the team to pursue another max free agent, like Bradley Beal or Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Anthony Davis’ Other Two Options for Free Agency
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 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 chatter that Davis would have interest in returning to his hometown of Chicago with the Bulls, but that has not gone beyond mere speculation. While Davis has not publicly ruled out the Bulls, there is almost no chance he lands there.
Anthony Davis: Time With Lakers ‘Nothing But Joy’
There is almost no chance that Davis would leave the Lakers. When asked about here is experience with the team this season and his immediate future, Davis said, “I had a great time in L.A. this first year. This has been nothing but joy, nothing but amazement. Over the next couple of months, we’ll figure it out. I mean, I’m not 100 percent sure, but that’s why my agent is who he is and we’ll discuss it and figure it out.”
He also formed a seamless bond with LeBron James, and that will be a critical factor in determining his future. From the time Davis was traded to L.A. for a package of budding young players, he and James were thinking championships. He is not about to turn away from that.
“When I first got traded, we were just talking about trying to figure out the team, the guys that we wanted around us to compete for a championship,” Davis said. “After the team was completed, then we started talking about, we got enough to be champions. It was really after the first couple games of the regular season where we would start rolling — playing defense, scoring the basketball — and we realized how great of a team that we are and that we got enough to become champions this year.”