On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Lakers offered Anthony Davis a four-year, $146 million max contract extension and Davis turned it down, which sounds like bad news for the team without context. With context, though, it was a mere formality.
On July 1, Davis will be given the opportunity to sign a five-year deal with the Lakers for $202 million, which isn’t only one more year; it’s also almost $4 million more annually. However, just because he can sign for five years, doesn’t mean he will.
In fact, according to Bill Oram of The Athletic, some within the Lakers are expecting Davis to sign for just three years next summer:
Some inside the Lakers anticipate Davis might pass on a five-year contract in favor of a three-year deal with a player option in the third year, similar to the contract Kawhi Leonard signed with the Clippers last summer. That would allow Davis to hit free agency in 2022, when he would be just 29, and still in his prime, and James would be 37 going on 38.
Age isn’t the only factor that Davis and his agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, will consider if they sign a three-year deal with the Lakers next summer, though.
If Davis enters free agency in the summer of 2022, he’ll be eligible to sign a contract worth 35% of the projected $125 million salary cap because by then he’ll be a 10-year veteran. Right now, he can only take up 30% of the salary cap. The same can be said of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, who can test unrestricted free agency in 2021.
The question is whether or not Davis would leave two years of guaranteed salary on the table after seeing one his closest friends, DeMarcus Cousins, lose out on millions of dollars because of unfortunate injuries. For their own selfish reasons, Lakers fans will be hoping he locks in a contract for the most years possible.