NBA free agency begins today (Friday) at 3:00 p.m. PT. But just because Anthony Davis has had weeks (or honestly, months) to consider what type of deal he’ll re-sign on with the Lakers, don’t necessarily expect his decision to leak out quickly.
Klutch Sports CEO and Davis’ agent, Rich Paul, will be in contact with Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka after 6 p.m. Friday, sources said, but Davis plans to wait minimally through Thanksgiving as he considers his options on the length and structure of maximum contract deals.
Davis, 27, has several possible scenarios on a new deal with the Lakers, including a three-year, $106 million deal that would include a player option on the 2022-23 season — a structure that would align Davis with the end of LeBron James’ deal.
Wojnarowski reiterated all the previous reporting that Davis has long been widely expected to re-sign with the Lakers when this is all said and done, so this isn’t anything to really panic about, but it’s also fair to wonder: Why the wait? Because let’s be real — Davis has known what types of contracts he can get from the Lakers since he was traded to the team, and he and his team have had an idea of how the value of said deals may change as a result of the pandemic for weeks and months.
So why the delay? It’s not like he’s legally only allowed to think about free agency once the market opens up, or like he and his camp haven’t surely had dialogue amongst themselves and with the Lakers about all of this.
Well, when reading between the lines of the other, on-its-face-unrelated information that Wojnarowski decided to include in his report on Davis waiting, it’s easy to posit a theory on why Davis may be holding out:
Some of (LeBron) James’ free-agent windows with Cleveland extended over a period of weeks, so this is a familiar plan for star clients with Paul. Paul represents another Lakers free agent, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who is looking for a significant new deal with the Lakers — or elsewhere.
Again, we don’t know this to be the case, but it seems pretty clear what is going on here: Davis is doing his agency mate (and agent) a favor by keeping the pressure on the Lakers to pay Caldwell-Pope the “significant new deal” he’s seeking “with the Lakers (*dramatic music plays* bum bum BUM) ...or elsewhere.
As Wojnarowski mentions, this is right out of the Klutch Sports negotiating playbook. It got J.R. Smith paid, and Tristan Thompson too. It gives Paul the flexibility to say, as Brian Windhorst — a man well-versed in the Book of Paul — told our own Jas Kang, that while Caldwell-Pope may not get a huge deal on the open market, he’s worth one to the Lakers because they can’t easily replace him:
“If your retort to that is there is nobody out there who is going to pay Kentavious Caldwell-Pope $15 million a year, I would agree with you, especially in this market. But, I can see Rich Paul saying, ‘Yeah, he is worth 15 million to you.’”
Again, none of this is to suggest that Davis will leave the Lakers, but until he puts pen to paper, the team will be under the gun to make sure he does so, and if that means bringing Caldwell-Pope back quickly to take care of it, that may be something that’s necessary.
To be fair to Davis, this isn’t something where he’s necessarily hurting the Lakers, and he doesn’t owe them anything, anyway. Bringing back Caldwell-Pope — as I’ve written in this space several times — absolutely should be a priority for the team if they want to defend their title. This isn’t a situation where he’s hurting the team by waiting and trying to make sure that happens, and he’s earned the ability to look out for himself and his friends.
And look, Davis also may want to see what kind of roster the Lakers can put together over this protracted offseason, Caldwell-Pope or no Caldwell-Pope. There are plenty of logical reasons for Davis to wait, but it’s probably not because he still needs time to think about options he’s known about for months. That’s absolutely Davis’ call to make, but let’s be clear on why he’s probably making it.
As a result, we wait. Until at least Thanksgiving. Pass the stuffing, y’all. We’re gonna be here a while.