The Los Angeles Lakers and Anthony Davis agreed to the richest annual max contract extension in NBA history on Friday — the first day the two sides became eligible to negotiate. Davis, 30, will earn a 3-year, $186 million extension on top of the two years and $84 million he had left on his deal. Davis is now under contract with the Lakers through 2028 for a total of $270 million.
Below are the yearly salaries for AD's contract, which averages an annual value of $62 million. The $186 million figure accounts for projected annual 10% rises in the salary cap.
- 2023-24: $40.6 million
- 2024-25: $43.2 million
- 2025-26: $57.6 million
- 2026-27: $62.2 million
- 2027-28: $66.8 million
Despite Davis' less-than-deal injury track record — he's played 62 games or fewer in each of his four seasons in Los Angeles — the Lakers, smartly, didn't hesitate to offer him the heftiest allowable bag.
“They understand AD and what his work ethic has shown,” Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul told Sportskeeda's Mark Medina. “He has some injuries, but it wasn’t due to him not working. It’s not like he came into camp overweight or showed any laziness. There were just fluke things. That happens in the game.”
“[The Lakers] weren’t caught up in that,” Paul added. “When you look at their style of play and what AD can bring to the table, it’s just something that was important to the team.”
Here's why the decision should've been, and presumably was, an easy call for the Lakers, and what it means for the franchise going forward.
3) AD had the leverage
Let's say the Lakers did harbor trepidation about paying the center nearly $70 million in his age-35 season. (To clarify: I don't believe this was the case — the Lakers hold Davis in extremely high regard.) What other options did they have? Davis had an early-termination option for 2024-25 (as part of the extension, Davis will opt into his $43.2 salary for 2024-25).
The Lakers had until Oct. 23 to negotiate but were simply not in a position to mess around. Had the Lakers idled or tried to get cute — for instance, by offering an incentive-laden deal based on availability — they might have risked a trade request, Davis opting for unrestricted free agency, and irked Klutch and LeBron James.
2) Anthony Davis is awesome at basketball
When he's on the court, Anthony Davis is very good at helping the Lakers compete for championships. Where else are they going to find another player of his caliber while LeBron is under contract?
This past season, Davis played 56 games, put up 25.9 points, shot a career-high 56.3% from the field, pulled down a career-high 12.5 rebounds, averaged 2.0 blocks, and was inarguably the most impactful defensive player in the playoffs as the Lakers advanced to the Western Conference Finals. He did so despite dealing with a bone spur and stress reaction in his right foot for months. (AD's injuries result from a combination of bad luck and perhaps misguided training regimens — like adding too much upper body weight — but his toughness should not be questioned.)
Davis can fit into any lineup combination or style of play. He's a genuinely selfless teammate. He embraced full-time center in 2022-23 (though that may change a bit next season). His ability to play centerfield and switch onto guards is immensely important in Darvin Ham's drop system.
Austin Reaves thinks AD doesn’t get the credit he deserves as a top-tier defender in the league.
— SHOWTIME Basketball (@shobasketball) July 24, 2023
The NBA75 member has averaged 24.0 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.3 blocks, and 1.3 steals per game for his career. During the 2020 title run, he averaged 27.7 points on 57.1% shooting, 9.7 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and had a real case for Finals MVP and claim as the best player in the league.
“Couldn’t think more highly of Anthony Davis as a Laker and as a player,” Lakers GM Rob Pelinka said at Summer League. “He’s helped deliver a championship to our franchise. He’s been an incredible captain and leader. We saw last year, willing to play through a hard foot injury to get our team to the Western Conference Finals. So just love having him as a part of our team.”
There's no return package the Lakers could have fetched in a trade that wouldn't have diminished their championships chances while LeBron's window is open.
1) The Lakers are setting up the future
For the last few years, the Lakers avoided signing players to contracts beyond LeBron and AD's 2024-25 options. The plan was to go all-in with LeBron while maintaining flexibility to retool with when he (finally) moved on.
The calculus changed, arguably beginning at the 2022 trade deadline, when Pelinka opted not to trade two first-round picks (and Russell Westbrook) to improve a doomed squad. They hired Ham to build a program and establish a culture over time. In the 2022 NBA Draft, the Lakers bought an early second-round pick and drafted a promising young piece (Max Christie).
Midway through last season, Pelinka conducted “pre-agency” at the trade deadline, then Austin Reaves emerged as an indisposable franchise building block. At exit interviews, Pelinka signaled the Lakers would prioritize continuity over star-chasing. In the 2023 NBA Draft, the Lakers actually used their first-rounder (Jalen Hood-Schifino) and moved up in the second round to nab Maxwell Lewis, whom they inked to a four-year deal. Smart moves, considering their impressive player development résumé.
After signing Reaves (4 years, $54 million), Rui Hachimura (3 years, $51 million), and Gabe Vincent (3 years, $33 million) in free agency, the Lakers now have six players under contract past the expiration of LeBron's current deal — and multiple draft picks. LeBron and AD are the only guys on the roster over 30.
Plus, the organization should still be in a position to acquire another star, either on the market or via trade. (The new CBA will make it increasingly difficult to pay three max players). The 2026 free-agent class could include Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum, and — gulp — Giannis Antetokounmpo (the latter three could hit the market in 2025 if they decline player options). As contract valuations spike, Davis's may end up looking like a relative bargain. A trade can always materialize down the road if need be.
For now, though, it appears that the Los Angeles Lakers have committed to making Anthony Davis the centerpiece of the franchise for years to come.