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Ed Davis Got Lost in the Shuffle of L.A. Lakers' Offseason

David Murphy@@davem234Featured ColumnistJuly 6, 2015

Los Angeles Lakers forward Ed Davis looks on during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Chicago Bulls, Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Lakers’ waiting game during the first week of summer free-agency cost them dearly when Ed Davis walked away.

The hardworking big man agreed to a three-year deal with the Portland Trail Blazers worth $20 million, per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, a major pay bump from the $981,084 he made this season in Los Angeles.

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

Free agent forward Ed Davis is finalizing a deal with the Portland Trail Blazers, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.

According to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News, Davis acknowledged his appreciation for the Lakers and would have liked an extended run, if not for a matter of timing.

“They wanted me to come back,” Davis said. “But I felt like this was the right decision for me. I didn’t really want to wait around.”

Portland pounced on Davis as the Lakers were waiting on a decision from former Trail Blazer LaMarcus Aldridge, who ultimately agreed to join the San Antonio Spurs on a four-year $80 million contract, according to Wojnarowski.

Don Ryan/Associated Press

Meanwhile, other options were dwindling away as other top free agents such as DeAndre Jordan and Greg Monroe played the ritualistic game of musical chairs. Finally, on July 4, the Lakers reached a trade agreement to acquire Roy Hibbert from the Indiana Pacers.

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As noted by Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, the Lakers will send a future second-round draft pick to Indiana and will absorb the final year of Hibbert’s contract at $15.5 million.

Perhaps L.A.’s torturous process of chasing top prospects and watching them slip away was simply part of doing business in the highly competitive NBA—other teams also got caught up in the logjam. But the collateral damage included the loss of Davis, a player who fully understood the business side of things, and took care of his own end.

“It was a tough thing,” Davis said, per Medina. “But it’s about finding the right deal at the right time and getting the financial part and security.”

Ryan Ward @RyanWardLA

Trying to understand the logic in letting Ed Davis sign elsewhere, especially for only $20M over 3 years. Major loss in my eyes.

The 6’10” combo power forward and center was one of the Lakers’ few bright spots during a horrendous 21-61 season, delivering a consistent effort night in and night out. Davis averaged 8.3 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks over the course of 79 games during his lone season in L.A. It’s also worth noting that those stats came within the context of a spare 23.3 minutes per game.

The “Big Boss” was also the team’s most efficient scorer, completing 60 percent of his attempts, usually at close range. He also had the speed and athleticism to run the floor in transition, often as a favorite lob-pass partner to point guards Jordan Clarkson and Jeremy Lin.

Now, the 26-year-old will take his work ethic north to Portland, where there's suddenly a lot of frontcourt space to fill. The Trail Blazers not only lost Aldridge, but center Robin Lopez as well. The 7-footer is headed to the New York Knicks on a four-year deal, per Wojnarowski—the soothsayer of NBA transactions.

What can Portland fans expect from a guy with such big shoes to fill?

“I'm going to go out and grind,” Davis said, per Joe Freeman of the Oregonian. “I’m going to dive for that loose ball, get that extra possession, make a big block. I'm one of those energy guys.”

The Lakers meanwhile, have continued filling other positional needs, including combo guard and reigning Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams. Per Wojnarowski, the guard will earn approximately $21 million over three years in L.A., basically the same amount that Davis signed for in Portland.

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

Free agent Lou Williams has agreed to a 3-year, $21 million deal with Lakers, league sources tell Yahoo

Williams versus Davis is an apples-to-oranges conversation—each brings an entirely different skill set to the table. And the Lakers can certainly use the kind of scoring punch that Williams offers.

But adding yet another punctuation mark on a busy holiday weekend was news that veteran power forward Brandon Bass also appears to be headed to L.A., with terms yet to be finalized, as noted by TNT’s David Aldridge.

David Aldridge @daldridgetnt

Confirm Brandon Bass agreement w/Lakers (@SpearsNBAYahoo first). Contract terms pending other LA moves. Lakers do have room exception.

The Lakers subsequently issued a statement regarding the ongoing negotiations with both players, which should be finalized after the end of the moratorium period. 

The L.A. frontcourt rotation had been looking a bit patchy between the enormous 7’2” defensive presence of Hibbert, who is not the swiftest of foot, and the more mobile youngsters without much experience, such as Julius Randle, Tarik Black and Larry Nance Jr., this year’s No. 27 draft pick.

An argument can be made that Bass will bridge the gap. But with 10 seasons under his belt, he represents the savvy veteran move rather than hope for the future.

Ultimately, Davis—a former lottery pick for the Toronto Raptors in 2010 and an NCAA champion at North Carolina—could have been the perfect complement in L.A. this season, filling in all the gaps and providing his signature energy, tenacity and grit.

Now he’ll serve an even larger role in Portland, and it’s probably the best decision he could have made.

But letting him walk was also unfortunate for the Lakers, a team that has let too many opportunities slip away in recent years.

Davis leaves behind one year of no-nonsense effort and a lot of good will. Big Boss, we hardly knew ye.

Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.

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