Late Sunday night, as the NBA preps for the transaction storm of a millennium starting Monday at 11 a.m. CT, Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Haynes reported that Anthony Davis is opting out of his $28.7 million player option with the Los Angeles Lakers, making Davis an unrestricted free agent.
Indeed, Davis, the Englewood native who once famously called Chicago the “mecca of basketball,” is -- sort of -- on the open market. Bulls jersey photoshoppers, your time has come.
But, in reality, there’s no reason to jump out of your seats for this one. In October, The Athletic’s Shams Charania first reported Davis’ intent to opt out of his deal, then re-sign with the defending champs. This news appears to be an extension of that strategy.
Davis has an intriguing platter of contract options before him. He could choose to re-up with the Lakers on either a two, three or four-year deal and have any contract he signs finish with a player option for the final season to preserve flexibility.
The middle choice -- a three-year contract that consists of two guaranteed seasons and a player option -- would give Davis the option to opt out and lock in his next long-term deal at 29 years old and with exactly 10 years of NBA service under his belt, meaning he’d be eligible for a max contract that begins with a salary equal to 35 percent of the cap and with eight percent annual raises that add up over time.
Until he reaches 10 years of experience, the largest contract he can sign begins at 30 percent of the salary cap. With the Lakers, he can receive eight percent annual raises, but with any other team, he could only receive five percent annual raises.
For Bulls fans hoping to keep the dream of a Davis homecoming alive, the most favorable outcome would be him signing a two-year deal with an option to opt out next offseason, when the Bulls will be within shouting distance of max cap space -- though depending on personnel moves and extension decisions made by the new regime, they could be well-positioned in the summer of 2022 as well.
Either way, we’ll continue to classify Davis finding his way to the Windy City as a pipe dream at best. In Los Angeles, he has the opportunity to compete for multiple championships with LeBron James and seize the mantle of one of the most storied franchises in sports once James steps aside.
In Chicago… Well, potential reigns. With a new front office and coaching staff in place, the 2020-21 campaign will be a barometer for just how far this organization has come, and how far it still may have to go before stars of Davis’ ilk begin viewing the Bulls as a desirable destination.