Why did they sign [insert overpaid player here] when they could have had Ed Davis on a minimum salary?
The Lakers got one of the biggest steals of the summer – one that has been used to criticize other front offices all season – by giving Davis a two-year minimum contract.
To ink Davis to such a low-paying deal, the Lakers had to give him a player option on his $1,100,602 salary for next season.
Unsurprisingly, Davis has out-produced his current deal and wants a new one.
Davis said in an interview with the Los Angeles News Group that he will opt out of his player option worth around $1 million that would secure his Lakers’ future for the 2015-16 season for one specific reason.
“I’m hoping for a long-term deal,” said Davis, who has until June 25 before formally deciding his move. “I’d love to return here. I know this will turn around eventually.”
Davis has switched agents from Kobe Bryant’s representative Rob Pelinka to Leon Rose, whom Davis will defer to on weighing whether to take an offer from the highest bidder or accept a hometown discount with the Lakers to secure a multi-year contract. Davis said he “definitely” understands the risk that move entails.
“This is definitely my first option,” Davis said of the Lakers. “They’re a team that gave me a look last summer when not too many teams were calling. This is definitely where I want to be at. Hopefully I can stay here for the rest of my career.”
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Davis will count $947,276 toward the Lakers’ team salary until signed or renounced. The largest deal they could exceed the salary cap to give him would be structured:
- 2015-16: $1,320,722
- 2016-17: $1,380,155
- 2017-18: $1,439,587
- 2018-19: $1,499,020
That would be another bargain for the Lakers, but if Davis takes it, they could leverage a small bit of extra cap room. They could first spend $373,446 – the difference between his cap hold ($947,276) and first-year salary ($1,320,722) – and then officially re-sign Davis.
But if Davis wants more money – and I think he could get it, though I thought he’d get more last summer and didn’t – the Lakers will have to use cap room to re-sign him.
Davis has helped the Lakers, and they should try to keep him. But they’re also in a unique position with their large market and storied history. They can draw elite free agents like few franchises can. If that means a role player – albeit a good player – like Davis gets squeezed out, it’s well worth the tradeoff.
The Lakers should think big this summer, but they should do their best to keep Davis on the line in case they strike out on the big fish. He’s worth keeping around, just not at any (opportunity) cost.