Anthony Davis has a potentially franchise-altering decision to make at the end of this season. Get ready for an endless supply of speculation on what that decision might look like leading all the way up to the moment he finally decides a) whether he is going to opt out of his current contract and enter free agency (he’s almost definitely opting out) and b) whether he’ll re-up with the Los Angeles Lakers long-term.
Make no mistake about it, by the way, the Lakers would be absolutely, positively and utterly screwed if he decides they aren’t the best organization for him moving forward. More on that in a bit.
The latest chapter of this will-he-or-won’t-he game came in an interview with K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune, in which Davis said the following about returning to Chicago to play with his hometown Bulls (emphasis on the quote mine):
But with the Bulls’ rebuild in a different place and Davis, who shares the same agent as James, seemingly hellbent on landing in Los Angeles, the moment passed.
That’s why Davis’ short answer rang a little hollow when asked if wearing a Bulls jersey someday would mean anything to him.
“I mean, (this is) definitely hometown,” he said. “If the opportunity ever presents itself and when that time comes, I’d definitely consider it.”
Consideration isn’t really anything to worry about. Free agents “consider” all kinds of possibilities and, as Johnson points out, the timing just isn’t there for the Bulls right now.
Davis and the Lakers are currently on a similar timeline, which makes the below statement a little more important than whether he’d consider a return home. As you’d expect, Davis looking forward to next season:
“We stand great,” Davis said of the Lakers’ chances. “I feel very confident in our team and our roster. I’m excited about it. The league is going to be fun this year.”
As of right now, there just isn’t reason to worry about Davis’ decision, as daunting as it might be. He already drug his name and reputation through the mud just to get to the Lakers, and cost them basically the biggest draft haul in recent NBA history. I find it hard to imagine he’d further risk his personal brand by doing all that and flippantly jumping to his next team after only one season...
...Unless, of course, the Lakers put him in a situation where the public sentiment would remain on his side if he did so.
Davis and LeBron James have operated to this point as great masks for the organization to use to cover up some legitimate questions about its future. If the dysfunction we saw in the immediate aftermath of Magic Johnson’s abrupt resignation returns, and it starts to legitimately affect even Davis and James’ ability to win, then Davis would be perfectly within his right to at least look elsewhere for a better situation.
In the Lakers’ defense, though, they have operated at a much higher level this offseason than they did a year ago, so fewer of those questions remain.
As I said to start this piece, though, anytime the Lakers go through a small losing streak, anytime Davis and James exchange anything less than pleasantries, or anytime, well anything less than ideal happens, these headlines and questions about Davis’ future will pop up. That’s just how this goes. But as of right now, it’s damn near impossible to envision a scenario where Davis doesn’t give the Lakers more than one year to show him that this is the franchise for him for the foreseeable future.