Hanging over the Los Angeles Lakers season this year has been the shadow of Anthony Davis entering free agency this summer, and what he’ll do when he gets there. To be clear, there has been zero inclination from anyone even remotely close to the situation that hints there is even a remote possibility of him leaving L.A., but it is still technically a scenario that could happen, and one the Lakers have done quite a bit to avoid.
Alicia Jessop of The Athletic summarized what the move to L.A. has done for Davis’ brand and her recent profile on him, and Davis spoke to her a little bit about where his head is at right now regarding the decision he’ll have to make at season’s end. Davis is obviously interested in the continued growth of his brand, and in Los Angeles, he doesn’t have to look very far for a few pointers in that department:
While Davis says he has given “zero thought” to what, if any, move he will make this offseason, beyond Los Angeles’ media market, another factor may keep him on the Lakers’ roster. Asked who in the league has taught him the most about building a personal brand, Davis quickly responded, “Probably the guy I’m teammates with, LeBron.”
“He has a great brand,” Davis said. “He does so much stuff for his brand and with his brand. Just being not only his teammate, but his friend off of the floor before I even got to the Lakers and seeing how much he puts into his brand, I learned so much from that. I just try to know what I am doing in mine and think about the things he thinks about when he is putting things into his brand.”
One day, I’ll learn to be able to read someone talking about their brand and not have my skin crawl a little bit. Today is not that day.
Anyway, as far as the Lakers are concerned, there really isn’t much more they could have done to this point to convince Davis to stick around. The Lakers currently hold the best record in the west, Davis’ own brand is skyrocketing as they likely promised — he ranks eighth in the NBA in jersey sales this year as just one indicator — and from a basketball standpoint, they’ve made several concessions in terms of letting him play the position he wants to play (power forward) and in who he plays with.
The Lakers have done everything to keep AD happy this season pic.twitter.com/fKmgOUoLLs— zain fahimullah (@zain_gogh) January 21, 2020
If Davis leaves after the Lakers used a roster spot on DeMarcus Cousins (who has yet to and will not play a second this year) and gave an outsized role to Rajon Rondo (who is once again making a strong case as the worst player in the NBA this season), then a lot of the work Davis has done to grow his brand over these last few months will have been for nothing. One can’t claim to be all about winning, then also make those things a priority, and then leave after doing plenty of winning.
The Lakers would obviously take an L because they’ll have lost another generational big after only a year (a la Dwight Howard), but Davis just has to walk a few lockers over and ask Howard how that went for him in the years following his decision, and how his rekindling of the relationship with the Lakers specifically has helped regrow his brand.
Again, and this can’t possibly be pointed out enough, there has been zero indication from anywhere that anyone is worried about Davis leaving at the end of this season. Things are going too well right now, and he has too much on the line to consider leaving.
But if Davis does depart even after everything the Lakers have done for him on and off the court, that’d be his call, and he’d have to deal with the consequences if it turns out poorly.
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