When Anthony Davis signed with agent Rich Paul of Klutch Sports in 2018, it seemed like a move that foreshadowed a future signing with the Lakers to team up with LeBron James. It took some time — and some mid-season drama — but Davis is officially a Laker, after forcing the New Orleans Pelicans to trade him three years into his five-year max deal he signed in 2015. The Lakers on the other hand, traded away a group of young assets and future picks to land the six-time All-Star in hopes of signing him to a long-term deal when he hits free agency in 2020.
It didn’t matter where Davis landed, he continuously said he wouldn’t make a long-term commitment to any team that traded for him. His agent echoed Davis’ statements in a Sports Illustrated feature, “I can’t say it no bigger: we are going into free agency 2020. Anthony Davis will be in free agency.” Fast forward to the Lakers media day ahead of the 2019-20 season, and Davis isn’t changing his tune.
“I just want to focus on this year,” Davis said. “The Lakers definitely welcomed me with open arms, and made me feel like this was home. At the same time, it’s about what we can do this year. We have a special team and coaching staff, and we’re going to do whatever we can to focus on this year and come out victorious.”
Of course, no one expected a premature Kyrie Irving-like commitment on media day from Davis. Especially after a season in which he was fined $50,000from the Pelicans in January. Davis played his hand very well with this questioning. He left it vague enough to not suggest he’s already signing in Los Angeles, but also left the door open to let the Lakers know they don’t already have him long term. Davis already sacrificed an entire season to be with the Lakers, so he doesn’t owe them the satisfaction of knowing they’ll retain his services next season.
That’s why this season for the Lakers carries a lot of weight for their future. If this LeBron-led squad can’t make a run in the playoffs, then Davis has every right in going elsewhere when he hits the open market next year. Fortunately for the Lakers, they’ll have a healthy LeBron to pair with Davis and a slew of complimentary pieces to secure a playoff spot.
However, if Davis realizes the pressures of being teammates with LeBron — especially in Los Angeles — isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, the Lakers will not only lose Davis but the trade they executed for him will have been a waste. LeBron said during his media day press conference that his mom taught him “don’t talk about it, be about it.” So hopefully the idea of staying with the Lakers will be appealing enough for Davis in free agency next year, otherwise this franchise will be in the same position they were in a year ago.