Western Conference executive says Lakers are ‘reluctant’ to give Anthony Davis contract extension

Mike Battaglino
4 Min Read

The Los Angeles Lakers reportedly are “reluctant” to give Anthony Davis a contract extension when the star big man becomes eligible for one early next month.

“They entered the summer with A.D. on the back-burner,” a Western Conference executive told Heavy.com. “They would like to keep it there, keep that extension on the back-burner. They do not need to do it right away. I’d say they’re reluctant and you can understand that at this point.”

The Lakers have already accomplished much of what they wanted to do when the 2023 offseason began, highlighted by new contracts for Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura and D’Angelo Russell that will keep them in L.A. Whether Davis will also ink a new deal prior to the start of the 2023-24 season is perhaps the next big decision on the horizon.

The 30-year-old will become eligible for an extension on Aug. 4, yet the Lakers may be reluctant to give the aging star more years and more money in part because of his injury history. Davis has missed 104 games over the past three regular seasons, including 26 in the 2022-23 campaign, and his performance in last season’s playoffs was up and down at times from one game to the next.

“They want to see if (Davis) can stay healthy,” the executive said. “They want to see if this group continues to be what it looked like it could be down the stretch last year. And most of all, they want to see what LeBron [James] does next.

“But they had some things break their way with free agency, with Reaves and Russell. They have a lot of manageable contracts, good assets. There’s no contract on their books that you say, ‘They could never trade that one.’ There’s no Russell Westbrook this time around. So if you can take a chance and get Davis to extend on something that is not the max, if you get him to sign a deal that recognizes that the market might not be great for a guy so injury-prone, it is a risk worth taking.”

A max contract extension for Davis would be worth around $170 million for three years and would not go into effect until the 2025-26 season, potentially tying him to the Lakers until the 2028 offseason.

That timeline brings James firmly into the equation, with the 38-year-old able to opt out of his own contract following this upcoming season. With his son Bronny possibly headed to the NBA in 2024 and the elder James continuing to indicate that he wants to play with his son, the future Hall of Famer may not be Davis’ teammate in L.A. for too much longer.

Los Angeles has checked many boxes this offseason, locking up the supporting cast of Reaves, Hachimura and Russell while also adding Gabe Vincent, Cam Reddish, Taurean Prince and Jaxson Hayes.

The Lakers clearly are operating with the intention of keeping their championship window open after a surprising playoff run last season. The decision on potentially giving Davis an expensive contract extension likely will come down to how long they think that window can stay open.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. He remembers the birth of "Showtime" and has always admired the star power the Lakers have brought to the game.