Before the NBA hit the pause button on the 2019-20 season, the Los Angeles Lakers were one of the league’s top teams. Signing LeBron James and trading for Anthony Davis paid dividends; the two stars meshed incredibly well, propelling the club to the top of the Western Conference. Once the campaign ends, however, Davis will probably become a free agent.
While the general assumption is that the big man will opt out of the final year of his contract and sign a max extension with the Lakers, things now seem less cut and dry. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Anthony Davis’ financial future is significantly more complicated.
Anthony Davis’ time with the Los Angeles Lakers
While Anthony Davis found plenty of individual success with the New Orleans Pelicans, he ultimately asked to be traded to a contender. During his time with the Los Angeles Lakers, it’s safe to assume he got exactly what he wanted.
Davis also has to be happy with the team’s overall performance. During his time in New Orleans, the big man never won more than 48 games in a single season; in Los Angeles, he’s already won 49 of 63. The Lakers had a legitimate shot at winning an NBA title this year, although it’s not clear if they’ll even get a chance to finish the campaign.
The coronavirus pandemic adds a new wrinkle to the financial future
It goes without saying that the coronavirus pandemic has altered the entire sporting landscape. Those changes, however, could affect Anthony Davis’ financial future with the Los Angeles Lakers.
While the big man is under contract through the 2020-21 campaign, he can opt-out of his current deal after the 2019-20 season ends. His agent Rich Paul pledged that they would use that option; while some rumors were swirling about another move, the general consensus was that Davis would hit free agency, then sign a max contract with the Lakers.
There might be a problem with that plan, though. Max contracts are based on a percentage of the salary cap; due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA’s salary cap is expected to drop. That means Davis’ extension would take a hefty hit, potentially becoming less lucrative than playing out the final season of his existing contract.
Davis could choose to remain under contract next season, but that still introduces an element of risk. While teams have been saving up for the 2021 free agency class and league revenue should stabilize by then, there’s no guarantee the big man will be able to cash in. He could play another season in Los Angeles and hit the jackpot next summer, or he could suffer an injury and miss out on a major payday.
Regardless of the financial details, Anthony Davis should stay a Laker
While the finances and the timeline may be a bit muddier than they were a month ago, one truth seems to remain constant: Anthony Davis probably isn’t leaving the Lakers.
The big man wanted to join a team where he could compete for an NBA title; the Lakers certainly give him that chance. He’s playing alongside LeBron James, winning games, and, as far as we can tell, is viewed as a key component of the team’s success. That sounds like a pretty ideal set-up.
“Most in league circles believe that work is largely done – that L.A. is where Davis wanted to be, LeBron James is the teammate he wanted to have, and that the Lakers have done enough to sell him on a future with the franchise,” Kyle Goon explained in the Orange County Register. “Again last week, [general manager Rob] Pelinka mentioned Davis and James in a “partnership” with the front office, and since last July, Pelinka has reportedly sought Davis’ opinion in important decisions.”
The coronavirus has introduced some new variables to the equation, but it looks like Lakers fans have one less thing to worry about. It might take some time to hammer out the details, but Anthony Davis seems like he’ll be staying put.