Is Anthony Davis already failing to be a team player?

By Vincent Frank
© Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers have their issues in the front office. This is already known.

So it was not a big surprise that the decision to acquire Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans culminated in Los Angeles failing to have a max contract spot to offer a free agent.

Arguments can be made about whether general manager Rob Pelinka and Co. actually know the rules. We’re going to assume they do.

At issue here is the $4 million trade kicker Davis is owed after the trade. He has an ability to waive it, a move that would help Los Angeles create a max-contract spot in free agency.

Common logics leads us to believe that Los Angeles is not entitled to Davis waiving the kicker. But is he showing himself to be less than a team player about a week into his unofficial tenure as a member of the Lakers?

Precedent tells us this might be the case.

LeBron James and Chris Bosh

  • Back in 2010, James and Bosh helped form the first super team of the modern era with the Miami Heat.
  • This would not have been possible if the two had decided on signing max contracts that summer.
  • James and Bosh took $15 million less over the duration of their contracts to make it work.

There is a caveat here. James and Bosh agreed to six-year deals that came with the possibility of opting out after four seasons. That’s exactly what LeBron did in deciding to return to the Cavaliers.

This did not come until Miami earned four consecutive trips to the NBA Finals and won two titles. If it weren’t for the sacrifices from James and Bosh, this never would have come to fruition.

Kevin Durant

  • Durant’s initial deal with the Warriors back in 2016 was a full max of $54.3 million over two seasons.
  • Durant didn’t need to take less because Golden State was signing an outside commodity and had already cleared cap room.
  • The decision to take a one-and-one deal enabled Durant to sign for less than the max in 2017 and last summer. That’s exactly what he did.
  • In giving up $10 million for one season, Durant helped the Warriors re-sign the likes of Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, among others.

Golden State’s championship window was kept open by Durant’s act of selflessness. Sure signing three one-plus-one deals helped keep Durant’s options open. He’s now a likely impending free agency.

Even then, Golden State’s three consecutive NBA Finals appearances and two titles would not have been possible if Durant didn’t take less.

As it relates to Davis, he’s already set to earn nearly $33 million next season. Davis will then opt out of his contract next July and sign a super-max deal worth well north of $220 million over five seasons.

It’s easy for us to say that $4 million isn’t a whole lot. But when looking at the math here, it really isn’t.

If this is the difference between the Lakers being able to add a player of Jimmy Butler or Kemba Walker’s ilk or going after multiple mid-tier players, it could have an impact on their viability as championship contenders.

We’re not blaming Davis. We’re just openly asking whether he’s already proving himself to be less than a team player, something we saw last season with the New Orleans Pelicans.