Anthony Davis remaining a Laker this offseason has seemed like a foregone conclusion from basically the moment the team acquired him in a trade during the summer of 2019, but the team made it official on Thursday, inking Davis to a five-year, $190 million contract.
In his first interview since signing the deal, Davis confirmed to Chris McGee of Spectrum SportsNet that he was never going anywhere.
“I just wanted to take the process one day at a time. Obviously winning the championship with L.A. was very great. The team Rob (Pelinka) put together, and Jeanie (Buss) put together, and Linda (Rambis) and all the people in the front office was amazing, and we did something special. Especially with everything going on in 2020.
“I don’t think there was a doubt that I was gonna come back, it was just trying to figure out the logistics and what was best for me and my family, and I was able to get a deal done today. So I’m excited about that, and excited for what Dudz calls ‘the Big 3,’ with him, myself and ‘Bron, so it’s gonna be a great time. We’ve got another great task ahead of us, the team is looking great, guys have been working out, so I’m excited.”
But while Davis remaining in L.A. wasn’t shocking in any way, how long he signed for is. Most expected him to sign a short-term deal and hit free agency again either next summer — when LeBron James could have entered free agency before he signed a two-year, $85 extension of his own on Thursday — or the summer after, when Davis would have had 10 years of experience and could have been eligible for a max contract worth 35% of the cap, instead of the 30% he got in this deal.
So why didn’t Davis wait? He told McGee the answer is pretty simple.
“L.A. is the place I wanted to be. They do a great job... of just putting the team together. It’s the place I wanted to be, where I love to be. I’m out here during the summers and now living out here full-time for the next five years. So I thought it was just a great thing to go five years and be here in the place that I love, and (I) don’t plan on going anywhere. So why not maximize it the most at this opportunity?”
The reason for the above ellipsis? Davis was interrupted by his “agent” mid-answer.
Ah, the perils of doing work calls from home. We’ve all been there at this point of the pandemic, right?
Davis also said that James’ extension wasn’t important to his decision, either, even claiming (somewhat dubiously) that he had no idea about it until it was reported on Wednesday, and as if to illustrate that alleged lack of knowledge, he even mixed up the numbers on James’ deal, shortchanging him by almost $40 million.
“To be honest, I didn’t know what LeBron had going on. I didn’t know he was signing the deal. Rich doesn’t involve me with LeBron’s contract business. I found out the day everyone else found out that he was signing for two (years) $48 (million), I mean two for $85 (million), sorry ‘Bron (laughs).”
He added that he wasn’t surprised that LeBron would join him in committing to the Lakers for longer, though.
“I wasn’t (surprised). I know he still loves the game, and he’s ready to continue playing basketball for the Laker organization, obviously talking about being able to play basketball with his son, and I wasn’t surprised by the extension. After doing something special like that with a great group of guys, it’s hard to leave L.A. Nation.”
And with those two together, the Lakers are hoping it will be difficult for either of them to want out for the foreseeable future.
Davis also shared some thoughts on a few other topics in his interview with McGee, which we’ll get to below.
On the new players the Lakers brought in
“I think Dennis (Schröder) surprised me the most. Just from the fact that I didn’t expect for it to happen. You hear rumors and things like that, but you don’t really get involved because you don’t know what’s real and what’s not. And when I saw that trade go through I was like “Wow, we really just got Dennis Schroder.” Somebody that is tough on the defensive end, great offensively, scrappy. The same way we played last year, he fits right into that mold.
“You lose a lot of guys... We wish ‘Do, DG, QC, Dwight, ‘Vale, AB, luck with their respective teams, and without those guys we wouldn’t have been able to win a championship, for sure. But we added some guys to take on their roles, and I think we did really good.”
Davis is the first player I’ve ever heard call JaVale McGee simply “Vale,” but more notable is that he clearly really likes the Lakers’ offseason moves, and one is left to wonder if they’re part of what gave him the confidence to commit for longer than anyone predicted. Especially the addition of Schröder, whose talents he obviously appreciates.
On what he did during the Lakers’ short break after winning the championship
“Took a couple of vacations. Kind of just let my body heal. But not much. We didn’t really have much time, like you said we starting next week, a couple weeks, getting right back afterwards. The most I did was kinda just chill at home, get some time to see my family again, as you see, the little one came in here, I love spending time with her. But just trying to get ready for next season. It’s going to be a shorter season with a quick turnaround for us, but I’m ready to get going.”
That’s good news, because it sounds like workouts will begin in full on Sunday.
On how motivated he is for this season
“I’m very motivated. I want to do it again. When we won the Western Conference Finals, LeBron said ‘Just wait until you win a championship and you hold that trophy.’ Your love for winning just grows, and ever since holding that trophy I just want to do it again. You want to hold that trophy over and over and over, you get addicted to winning.
“I want that feeling again I want to be able to hold that Larry O’Brien trophy again, and become a meme again where I’m crying and people are using it for everything (laughs). But that was a good meme! I’m ready to get started again and I’m ready to get with this group of guys and get back to work to be able to hoist one of those trophies again.”
This just adds fuel to the fire of Jared Dudley’s theory that Davis is going to gun for his first MVP award this year, but it sounds like that’s not his main focus. Repeating as champions is, which should be music to the ears of any Lakers fans who haven’t been totally overwhelmed by all the good news Davis has given them over the past 24 hours.
Because last summer, AD was just on the way. Now, he’s here to stay, and that’s a beautiful thing for this franchise.