Anthony Davis has been able to add some suspense to his expected return to the Los Angeles Lakers, but it could be for a very good reason.
What could be holding up Davis from signing his extension is the fact that two-time defending MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo has yet to ink his super-max extension with Milwaukee. If Antetokounmpo does not opt for the five-year, $228 million deal before the Dec. 21 deadline, he’d be eligible to be a free agent next offseason.
ESPN senior writer Brian Windhorst broke down what could be going on with Davis and how he could help set the Lakers up for a massive superstar trio next season by aiding the team’s efforts to bring the Greek Freak to LA.
“It’s unusual for AD to delay his re-signing for this long. And one of the things he could be watching is what Giannis does,” Windhorst said on SportsCenter. “If Giannis elects to sign the extension, we could see AD sign for longer. But if Giannis sets himself up to be a free agent next year — I know it seems hard to believe the Lakers could do it — but that could spur Anthony Davis to only sign a one-year contract with a player option, which is the kind of deal LeBron James is on, to leave flexibility in the Lakers payroll. There are a lot of people watching Giannis Antetokounmpo.”
Lakers Offseason Among Best in League
The Lakers had one of — if not the — best offseason, bringing in some key pieces and upgrading the roster around Davis and James. Dennis Schroder, Marc Gasol, Montrezl Harrell and Wes Matthews — Antetokounmpo’s former teammate — are all big additions. On top of that, the Lakers were able to retain Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Markieff Morris.
The Bucks have made some moves, but they haven’t been nearly as successful in an effort to satisfy their superstar. The team had an embarrassing ordeal with Bogdan Bogdanovic fall through, and their biggest move was a trade with New Orleans for point guard Jrue Holiday.
While Holiday is a great two-way player, Milwaukee gave up a lot to get him in Eric Bledsoe, George Hill and a treasure trove of draft picks, approaching the price the Lakers paid for Davis. Those were the Bucks first-round picks in 2020, 2025, and 2027, along with the rights to swap picks in 2024 and 2026.
The Bucks have been bounced from the players earlier than expected the last two seasons despite the individual success for Antetokounmpo. The question now becomes if the Bucks have done enough to keep him in Milwaukee long-term.
Lakers Looking to Sign Another Center
The Lakers have made key moves to big men in Harrell and Gasol, but could look to add another big to keep Davis from playing at the 5 as often as he did last season, per Dave McMenamin. The Lakers traded JaVale McGee to sign Gasol and saw Dwight Howard land in Philadelphia in free agency. The duo held down the center spot last season for Los Angeles.
“Even though Davis is more than capable at center and played the position plenty during the Lakers’ postseason run, sources told ESPN that it remains a priority for L.A.’s front office to fill the roster with other reliable centers so that Davis doesn’t have to bear the brunt of the 5 position during the arduous regular season.
Hassan Whiteside, Skal Labissiere, Kyle O’Quinn and Thon Maker are all names that remain on the free agent market.