The Los Angeles Lakers find themselves potentially on the precipice of signing Kawhi Leonard to play alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Boy, that’s a fun sentence to write. Read that back. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
In a few ways, they wouldn’t be in this situation if not for Davis and James wanting to team up, but this extends to the literal reason they have a chance at Leonard: Without Davis’ consent to waive his approximately $4 million trade kicker, the Lakers literally could not offer Leonard a full max salary.
Davis told Arash Markazi of The L.A. Times that the decision to do so wasn’t all that difficult:
“Money comes and goes; your legacy is forever,” Davis said. “I think how you establish yourself in the NBA and what you do on and off the court is something that people will remember forever. Obviously, our money is public and people know what we make, but at the end of the day no one cares about how much money you make.
I would probably argue quite a few people care what Davis or any profession athlete makes, but that’s a different conversation altogether. Davis’ next quote is pretty enlightening, though:
“Anthony Davis is not going to be a great basketball player because of the amount of money he makes, it’s going to be about what he achieved on the court and also off the court. That’s all part of my legacy, and I think that’s way more valuable than any monetary value.”
Let’s just move right on past him referring to himself in the third person. Cool? Cool.
Here’s the thing: It’s weird that fans ask for athletes to take pay cuts for the betterment of the team all the time, and then complain when said pay cut doesn’t fit their agenda. It was positively wild to see all kinds of people line up to drag Davis for foregoing that trade kicker as if it was some wrongdoing against the very moral fiber of the NBA.
At the end of the day, it’s Davis’ money. His passing up on said money allowed him to better his situation, should Leonard sign with the Lakers. And it isn’t like Davis will have a terrible time finding ways to make up for this, either. He has a deal with Ruffles. He’s appearing in “Space Jam 2”. Oh, and also there’s this:
The newest Laker on the cover of NBA 2K20.— Lakers Outsiders (@LakersOutsiders) July 1, 2019
AD on da way. pic.twitter.com/FkG8HM0ieO
It obviously sucks that the Lakers put Davis in a spot where he has to pass up on money so they can sign Leonard. That absolutely falls well short of the optimal situation for all involved. But if the Lakers do add Leonard and go on to win a title (or a few) over the next half decade or so, then what is there to complain about?
Davis took a hit in the short-term to benefit long-term. If he’s okay with that, I guess I’m confused where others might have a problem with his decision.
We’ll see how this all turns out both in terms of Leonard’s actual decision and the outcome a few years down the line. But no Lakers fans should forget anytime soon what sacrifice Davis was willing to make to put his new organization in a situation like this in the first place.
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