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Lakers Free Agency: Ed Davis declining player option, seeks bigger contract

Ed Davis wants to return to the Lakers next year, but he is also hoping to receive a 2-3 year deal worth $7-8 million per year. Can the Lakers afford to build a competitive roster and give Davis what he wants?

Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

Ed Davis is hoping to remain with the Los Angeles Lakers but plans on declining his $1.1 million player option, reports Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. Sources indicate Davis wants a 2-3 year deal worth at least $7-8 million per year, or a 1 year deal worth $9-10 million. Ed is hoping to cash in on the career-year that he had during the 2014-2015 season, where he opted to take more playing time with the Lakers and a lower salary over larger offers elsewhere.

In spite of the success he had as a Laker last season and the improvements that he has reportedly made so far this summer Davis' return to Los Angeles is questionable at best. With somewhere in the area of $23 million to spend on free agents, the Lakers may not have the ability to pay Davis the $8-9 million that he wants and still bring in another impact player. Badly hurting for starting-quality talent, a backup big man of Davis' level may be a luxury the Lakers can't afford.

While Lakers fans would certainly love to see the hustling, shot-blocking Davis return, there also may be a log jam at the power forward and center positions if the Lakers end up selecting Jahlil Okafor or Karl-Anthony Towns in the draft. With Julius Randle, Ryan KellyRobert Sacre, and Tarik Black already on board, it would appear that the Lakers will be lacking both minutes and roster spots to bring in additional big men, although a trade is always possible.

Here are a few key excerpts from Medina's update on Davis:

So, Davis declined a multi-year extension worth $20 million during his last season with the Memphis Grizzlies two years ago.

"I wanted to play. I didn't know if the opportunity was going to be there with Memphis," said Davis, mindful of the Grizzlies' loaded frontcourt in Gasol and Randolph. "It wasn't a great fit and didn't feel right at the time. I didn't feel comfortable taking the deal."

Instead, Davis signed with the Lakers to a two-year deal worth $2 million with a player option his second year.

What Davis lost in potential earnings, he made up for with his performances.

He became the ninth player in Lakers history to grab at least 20 rebounds in a game. Davis ranked 10th in the NBA in total offensive rebounds (230). He became a consistent option on both pick-and-roll and hustle plays.

"I took the risk more because I knew what I could do," Davis said. "I lost a lot of money last year with the paycut. But I’m not disappointed and I don’t regret not taking the deal in Memphis. Everything worked out. I’m definitely going to have some options this summer."

Ed also mentioned that he has been working hard on his jump shot over the summer, recognizing that it is one part of his game that is holding him back from being a true impact player. He is also working on his free throw shooting, and has reportedly changed his release, which is good news for Lakers fans who cringed whenever Davis went to the line last season.

(Coach) Scott gave Davis those opportunities partly because he used his strengths on defense, pick-and-rolls and putbacks to minimize his weaknesses with free-throw shooting (48.7 percent) and a lacking mid-range jumper. Since then, Davis has relished Scott's encouragement to spend his offseason improving his weaknesses. After changing his form, Davis believes he can average at least a 70 percent clip from the foul line.

"Whenever I do something, I try to be consistent with it and be effective," Davis said. "Just because I'm working on my jump shot this summer, I'm not going to come in next season and get up 100 3's in a season. But my jump shot is definitely something I'm working on so I am going to take jump shots next year since I put the work in and I feel confident."

Free agency begins on July 1st, and Davis will likely have to wait until the marquee free agents like Marc Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge have made their decisions before teams can focus on him. While a Lakers return may be questionable, fans are certainly hoping that Mitch Kupchak and Ed Davis are able to come to some sort of agreement that would keep him in a Lakers uniform.