Anthony Davis didn’t take the bait.
ESPN’s Rachel Nichols recently asked Davis during a sitdown interview whether he believes he’ll be a pillar of the Los Angeles Lakers for years to come, like the organization suggested at the six-time All-Star’s introductory press conference. Davis, who can become a free agent after the 2019-20 season, danced around the question, insisting he’s not looking past his first campaign in Purple and Gold.
“Honestly, Rachel, I’m just focused on this season. I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Davis said. “I have one year here, so I’m going make the best of this year. And when that time comes around in the summer or, you know, whenever the season’s over — hopefully, around, you know, mid-June, after we just had a parade, and I need a couple days to think — then we can talk about that. But until then, I’m trying to do whatever I can to help this team win this year.”
The most likely scenario is Davis opts out of his contract next summer and re-signs with the Lakers. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported last month after Los Angeles agreed to acquire Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans that the 2012 No. 1 overall pick long planned to sign with the Lakers upon reaching free agency, and there are significant financial incentives for Davis to remain with L.A. beyond the upcoming season. Plus, despite their failed pursuit of Kawhi Leonard, the Lakers are positioned to contend for a title with Davis and LeBron James leading the charge. Both Davis and James are represented by agent Rich Paul.
Things can change quickly in the NBA, though, and Davis’ refusal to commit to Los Angeles long-term when thrown on the spot suggests he learned a lesson from Kyrie Irving’s failed tenure with the Boston Celtics. Irving, of course, announced (unprompted) last October that he planned to re-sign with Boston, only to reverse course after a tumultuous 2018-19 season and join the Brooklyn Nets.
One could make the case it’s not apples to apples, seeing as how Davis had a genuine interest in landing with the Lakers while Irving simply ended up with the Celtics because they offered the best package to the Cleveland Cavaliers after the franchise point guard demanded a trade in the summer of 2017. But making a promise now wouldn’t have benefited Davis in the slightest, even though all signs point toward him sticking around in Tinseltown for the foreseeable future.
Thus, the Lakers mustn’t panic about Davis’ response to Nichols despite knowing that an unforeseen departure next offseason would represent a colossal setback for the franchise. The 26-year-old simply played it safe, just as he should’ve given Irving’s unceremonious exit from Boston.