The Los Angeles Lakers took their time getting around to their top two priorities of this offseason, but they got them done this week, signing Lebron James to a two-year deal Wednesday and Anthony Davis to a five-year pact on Thursday, James and Davis’ agent and Klutch Sports CEO and founder Rich Paul told ESPN.
By the end of James’ extension, the King’s career NBA earnings will have reached around $435 million, though that figure is dwarfed by what James makes off the court in endorsements and other ventures.
A day after they inked LeBron to his lucrative extension, the Lakers took care of the other half of their dynamic duo when they formally agreed with Davis on a five-year, $190 million max contract offer to stay put. The contract includes an early-termination option before the final year of the deal in 2024-25, according to Paul.
These big-time deals come on the heels of several solid and frugal signings for the Lakers last week, including reigning Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell, sharpshooter Wesley Matthews, depth piece Markieff Morris, playmaking big man Marc Gasol, and backcourt scorers Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Dennis Schroder. The Lakeshow clearly have their sights set on more than one or two titles.
“We don’t just look at this at all as a one- or two-year window,” Lakers vice president of basketball operations, general manager, and team architect Rob Pelinka said recently. “We want to stay competitive for the long term and make decisions that allow us to do just that and not just shoot all of our bullets to try and defend for one year. We want to be in a position of being a sustainable contender.”
The Lakers remain the betting favorites to win it all again this season, currently boasting +275 odds on Betway. They’re offering less value than a month and a half ago when they opened as favorites with +350 odds, but +275 still offers great value on a team that won the championship last season and arguably improved significantly in the offseason.
Davis was drafted first overall in 2012 by the New Orleans Pelicans and starred as the franchise player there for seven years before the Brow and the King worked with their agent, Paul, to work out a trade that allowed the two superstars to create an instantly symbiotic partnership in L.A. with the Lakers that led to the franchise’s first NBA title in a decade.
The Brow has been one of the top big men in the league ever since he was drafted, gradually expanding his potent scoring arsenal out to the three-point line while consistently playing as a top five rim protector on defense. The Chicago native is a seven-time All-Star, four-time All-NBA First Teamer, four-time NBA All-Defensive teamer, and a three-time NBA blocks king.
Playing alongside someone of James’ caliber did not stunt Davis’ continued growth as a player, if anything making him an even more more vocal leader and dependable defender, as evidenced by the 38 percent shooting percentage opposing players shot when Davis was the closest defender last season, second only to MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Davis finished second in Defensive Player of the Year voting in 2020 and after posting an impressive regular season he upped the ante in the playoffs, putting up 27.7 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.4 blocks, and 1.2 steals per game on a 57-38-83 shooting line in 21 playoff games.
With his long term deal it’s clear that Davis will be the future face of the franchise, but for now, James is still the King in L.A. James will continue to be the best player the Lakers have for the next couple of years and, barring injuries, he also has a chance at taking down Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time scoring record.
The kid from Akron is sitting in third on the all-time scoring list right now, but he’s only 4,146 behind Kareem, and if he were to play most games at a 25-point pace over the next couple of years, he’d be in line to pass KAJ in 2023 while wearing the same threads the legend was wearing when he scored his last points in 1989.
James ranks in the top 15 all-time in most categories, but when it comes to the playoffs, there is no one that can match his body of work: he’s first in scoring, first in steals, second in assists, second in three-pointers made, sixth in rebounds, and 11th in blocks. If he plays past this most recent extension he might just get em all.