Anthony Davis was still soaked and feeling the buzz of the championship champagne when the Los Angeles Lakers’ star big man was asked about his future and likely free agency.
“I have no idea,” Davis said. “I don’t know.”
After having 19 points and 15 rebounds and anchoring a suffocating defensive performance in the Lakers’ 106-93 Finals clinching win, Davis was asked about his first season with the Lakers and clarifying what having no idea means as far as his decision in free agency.
Davis, 27, can opt out of his contract and become a free agent.
“I had a great time in L.A. this first year,” Davis said. “This has been nothing but joy, nothing but amazement. Over the next couple of months, we’ll figure it out. I mean, I’m not 100 percent sure, but that’s why my agent [Rich Paul] is who he is and we’ll discuss it and figure it out.”
It’s hard to imagine Davis not returning to defend the Lakers’ title alongside LeBron James. The star pair worked perfectly together. But Davis is expected to opt out of his $28.8 million contract for 2020-21.
Davis could receive $32.7 million next season if the salary cap stays at $109.1 million, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks.
Davis was everything the Lakers envisioned when they traded Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and three first-round picks to New Orleans for the All-Star. He earned first-team All-NBA and first-team All-Defensive honors and was second in Defensive Player of the Year voting.
But nothing compared to what Davis won Sunday night — his first NBA championship. His impact on both ends was undeniable. The Lakers started Alex Caruso instead of Dwight Howard to have Davis start at center and the rout was on in Game 5.
When Davis was the lone big for the Lakers in the NBA Finals, they outscored the Heat by 61 points, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
And according to the Elias Sports Bureau, Davis is just the third player to average 25 points and 10 rebounds for the winning team in the Finals and not win Finals MVP, which went to James.
Davis, though, was overcome with emotion once it sank in that he was winning his first title. With under a minute to go, Davis had to walk away from the bench, toward an exit in front of a large mural of the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
James joined him and hugged him while also ribbing him.
“I was just emotional,” Davis said. “Actually, when I came out of the game, I just started feeling it. About 25 seconds left, that feeling just turned into reality. I was 25 seconds from becoming a champion. I got emotional. It’s the type of journey that I’ve been on, my team has been on, the organization has been on — it all came just full circle with this championship.
“So I just got real emotional. [James] was bothering me, saying, ‘You’re soft. Oh, you crybaby.’ I walked to the back, and there was a banner trophy. I kind of grabbed it. Then we walked back out to the court. It was an unbelievable feeling, and just an emotional moment for me.”
Davis took a lot of heat when he requested a trade from New Orleans early in 2019. But it was all worth it because now he is the latest in the pantheon of dominant Lakers big men to win a championship.
“It’s just part of your legacy, to say you’re a champion,” Davis said. “Not everybody can say that. I wanted to do the same thing in New Orleans. I was there for seven years. You want to go out there and compete for a championship every time you step on the floor. Got close, going to the second round. We thought we had a chance before DeMarcus [Cousins] got hurt.”
“When I got traded, that’s all I wanted was to be a champion,” Davis added. “To be able to compete, be able to win. I was able to do that my first year with the Lakers.”