Lakers offseason 2020
Photo Credit: USA Today

Lakers Offseason 2020: Anthony Davis Signs 5 Year Extension

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On Thursday Klutch Sports CEO and Founder Rich Paul and the Lakers announced Anthony Davis signed a five-year, $190 million maximum contract to stay with the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers.

 

Lakers offseason 2020
Photo Caption: Samachar News

The deal, which will presumably start at Davis‘ maximum salary of $32.7 million for the 2020-21 season, also includes an early termination option ahead of the 2024-25 season, the fifth year of the deal. However, with four guaranteed seasons, Davis has committed to the Lakers at least through his 31st birthday.

The agreement comes only a day after LeBron James agreed to a two-year, $85 million extension of his own deal. Davis is technically under contract for one year longer than James, but that could not be avoided. James will turn 38 during the final year of that deal, and NBA rules restrict long-term contracts from extending beyond a player’s age-38 season. But both James and Davis are represented by Rich Paul and Klutch Sports, and all indications suggest LeBron plans to spend the rest of his career in Los Angeles. Now, he can feel secure in knowing that Davis will be right there with him.

If there is one, the lone drawback is how these deals will limit the Lakers financially moving forward. Before James and Davis re-signing, there existed scenarios where the two could leave money on the table to clear the cap space needed to sign a superstar free agent next summer (presumably, the Milwaukee Bucks 2-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo). Now, with James and Davis locked in at the max? That possibility is likely gone.

 

The Lakers coldn’t be more excited as to how Davis fit in with the team, the city, and with the results of the court.

 

Lakers offseason 2020
Photo Credit: Mark J. Terrill/AP

“In the Orlando bubble, Anthony Davis proved he is one of the game’s most complete and dominant two-way players,” Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said in a statement. “Now, Lakers fans get to watch AD continue to grow and lead our franchise for years to come. This is truly a blessed moment for Lakers Nation.”

James and Davis were the perfect compliments to each other for the  Lakers. Davis averaged 26.1 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 2.3 blocks, and 1.5 steals per game. He shot 50% from the floor, 33% from 3-point range, and a career-best 84.6% from the free-throw line.

Davis elevated his postseason performance, averaging 27.7 points on 57% shooting from the floor and 38% from the 3-point line with 9.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.4 blocks, and 1.2 steals. Davis has started to etch himself into Lakers big man lore, a tradition that has included George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, and Pau Gasol.

We don’t just look at this at all as a one- or two-year window,Pelinka, who is also the Lakers’ vice president of basketball operations as well as the GM, said recently. “We want to stay competitive for the long term and make decisions that allow us to do just that and not just shoot all of our bullets to try and defend for one year. We want to be in a position of being a sustainable contender.

 

What does this mean for the Lakers going forward?

 

Lakers offseason 2020
Photo Credit: LA Times

There had been rumors that Davis would sign a 1+1 deal, so the Lakers to sign Giannis Antetokounmpo. But by signing Davis and extending LeBron James to a two-year, $85 million contract extension, they have all but surrendered on the idea of creating max space next offseason, when Giannis could be available. If we are reading the tea leaves (like NBC-LA iconic sportscaster Fred Roggin loves to say), then “The Greek Freak” will most likely be signing a max extension with the Bucks soon,

For the sake of argument, we will also say that the Lakers are willing and able to get off of all of their other movable obligations. That means trading Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, having Montrez Harrell and Marc Gasol decline their options, and renouncing their rights to free agents Alex Caruso, Kyle Kuzma, and Dennis Schroder. Even with those moves, the Lakers would still have the following financial hurdles they would have to overcome.

The Lakers used the stretch provision to waive Luol Deng in 2018. That left them with $5 million in dead money for the 2021-22 season. The Lakers applied for a career-ending injury exemption to have that money removed from their books but were denied. That money cannot be removed for any reason.

The Lakers would need to send out nearly $27 million to absorb Giannis at his $33.7 million max. They would barely get there if Harrell and Gasol opt-in, as they could package their four tradeable salaries (those two, Caldwell-Pope and the non-guaranteed deal of Alfonzo McKinnie) to get to around $27.3 million. If Harrell or Gasol chose to opt-out?

 

Lakers offseason
Photo Credit: ClutchPoints

They’d have to sign-and-trade one or more of their own free agents to get there. That presents the complication of those players possibly not wanting to play for the Bucks. At the very least, all of this means that the Lakers would need help from at least one factor out of their control to match enough salary to make this trade.

If recent NBA history has taught us anything, it’s that when a superstar wants to play for a specific team, he usually finds a way to do so. We don’t know whether or not Giannis is interested in being a Laker, but if he is, odds are, he’ll find a way to make that dream a reality.

If I were a betting man, I wouldn’t bet on Giannis playing in Los Angeles, but that doesn’t matter today. The Lakers are defending champions, atop the NBA world once again, and AD remains in Purple and Gold for the next four years (at least). It is more likely that the Lakers focus on resigning Schroder and Harrell long term and building the team’s depth that way.

 

Anthony Davis has long been touted to carry the mantle as the face of the Los Angeles Lakers franchise when LeBron James decides to call time on his illustrious career. James NBA champion reportedly told Davis “there was more work to do” during last month’s title celebrations, as if symbolically anointing his heir. Now the future is locked in long term in L.A.

Anthony Davis           Anthony Davis          Anthony Davis          Anthony Davis          Anthony Davis          Anthony Davis          Anthony Davis          Anthony Davis          Anthony Davis          Anthony Davis          Anthony Davis           

-Joe Arrigo – Franchise Sports Media

Follow Joe Arrigo on Twitter @JoeArrigo

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