Los Angeles Lakers big man Anthony Davis revealed during his introductory press conference Saturday that he waived the $4 million trade kicker in his contract following his trade from the New Orleans Pelicans in hopes that the Lakers would be able to sign Kawhi Leonard in free agency.
According to Matthew Moreno of LakersNation.com, Davis said he was committed to lending his new team a helping hand: "Obviously, any time you're able to acquire a player like Kawhi, you have to do almost everything to get a guy like that. ... I still wanted to do whatever to help the team."
Davis waiving the trade kicker aided the Lakers in creating another max-salary slot, but Leonard decided to sign with the rival Los Angeles Clippers instead.
Although the Lakers didn't land the reigning NBA Finals MVP, Davis is happy with how general manager Rob Pelinka used the cap space, per Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum SportsNet: "I think we did a great job of using that throughout the entire team."
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After trading Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and three first-round picks to the Pelicans for Davis, the Lakers essentially had nothing in terms of a supporting cast around Davis, LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma.
Pelinka went on a spending spree, though, and surrounded the Lakers' two superstars with a bevy of quality shooters and bigs. In addition to bringing back point guard Rajon Rondo, shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and center JaVale McGee, L.A. signed guards Danny Green, Quinn Cook, Avery Bradley and Troy Daniels, forward Jared Dudley and center DeMarcus Cousins.
While the Lakers have not reached the playoffs since the 2012-13 season, they now have arguably two of the top-five players in basketball in James and Davis, and they have seemingly assembled a deep roster capable of contending for a championship.
Much of the pressure will fall on the shoulders of James and Davis, but with a supporting cast that includes NBA champions like Rondo and Green, as well as a four-time All-Star in Cousins, the Lakers now have the type of experience and grit they need to be a top team in the Western Conference.
Signing Leonard would have made the Lakers the unquestioned favorite to win it all in 2019-20, but even though they'll have a tougher road without him, Davis' trade kicker waiver aided significantly in building a strong roster from top to bottom.