Anthony Davis wasn’t supposed to make a long-term commitment to the Lakers. With an opportunity to sign a max contract worth 35% of the cap just two years away, he was expected to sign a “2+1” deal and evaluate his options then, but he didn’t.
On Thursday, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that Davis had agreed to sign a five-year, $190 million contract with the Lakers that includes an early-termination option in the fifth year. General manager Rob Pelinka made the signing official in a statement on Thursday:
“In the Orlando bubble, Anthony Davis proved he is one of the game’s most complete and dominant two-way players,” Pelinka said. “Now, Lakers fans get to watch AD continue to grow and lead our franchise for years to come. This is truly a blessed moment for Lakers Nation.”
Davis earned All-NBA First Team honors for the fourth time in his career in 2019-20, averaging 26.1 points (.503 FG%, .846 FT%), 9.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 2.3 blocks and 1.5 steals in 62 games. He made his seventh career All-Star appearance, was a two-time Western Conference Player of the Week and was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team for the second time in his career. Davis ranked third in the NBA in blocks and 10th in points, while finishing as one of two players to average at least 2.0 blocks and 1.5 steals per game.
In 21 playoff appearances, Davis averaged 27.7 points, (.571 FG%, .383 3FG%), 9.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.2 steals. He became the fifth player in league history to shoot 50-40-90 in the NBA Finals (.571 FG%, .421 3P%, .938 FT%), joining Kevin Durant, Chauncey Billups, Penny Hardaway and Magic Johnson. Davis became the eighth player in NBA history to win an NBA Championship, NCAA Championship and an Olympic gold medal.
Davis’ decision to sign a long-term contract could have been motivated by a number of things, including his family, the uncertainty surrounding the NBA’s future financial health and the sobering truth that injuries can happen at any moment, as he saw up-close with DeMarcus Cousins in 2018. Whatever it was, Lakers fans aren’t going to question it.
Now, Davis and LeBron James, who agreed to sign a two-year, $85 million extension on Wednesday, will be expected to keep the Lakers in contention for the next several years. They started their partnership off on the right foot last season, when they were crowned champions, but the expectations promise to get bigger from here on out, especially for Davis.
James was the most valuable player on the Lakers last season. You could even make the argument that was the most valuable player in the NBA last season. But James will turn 36 years old a few weeks into the 2020-21 campaign and he’ll be 38 when his contract expires in 2023.
The Lakers’ future lies with Davis, who is just entering his prime at 27 years old. And if last season was indicative of what is to come for Davis, the future — near and distant — is bright.