NBA Free Agency 2020: Contract Predictions for Anthony Davis and Top Free Agents

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMay 8, 2020

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 8: Montrezl Harrell #5 of the LA Clippers fights for position with Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers during a game at the Staples Center on March 8, 2020 in Los Angeles, CA. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Credit: 2020 NBAE (Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The 2020 NBA free-agency pool is shallow, no matter how you measure it.

It's light on star power behind Anthony Davis, and no one expects the Brow to bolt from his new Hollywood home. It's short on spenders, and most of the teams with money aren't positioned to make win-now purchases.

That said, a select number of players will still put pen to paper on colossal contracts. Some of those stars will inevitably change teams. This won't be a free-agent frenzy, but there will be enough activity to keep the hoops world entertained.

We're peeking into our crystal ball to see what lies ahead and assembling contract predictions for three of the top players on the market.


Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers

After declining a max extension offer in January, Davis could pass on another max offer from the Lakers this summer.

But that doesn't make him a flight risk. It's a strategic to move to help him maximize his earnings and keep the front office's feet to the fire.

As The Athletic's Bill Oram relayed, some within the Lakers expect Davis to pass on a five-year contract in favor of a three-year pact with a player option on the final season. That would allow him to re-enter the market as a 10-year veteran, making him eligible for the richest deal possible. It also would require L.A. to give him incentive to stay, in case a then-37-year-old LeBron James isn't enough.

It's possible Davis opts for the security of a five-year deal. He could also take a one-year contract with a player option, do the same next offseason and still enter the 2022 market as a 10-year vet. Several options are on the table, but seemingly all of them see him re-signing with the Lakers.

Prediction: Davis signs a three-year deal with the Lakers that includes a player option.


Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans

While the Lakers shipped a plethora of picks and prospects to the Pelicans for Davis, Ingram has quickly emerged as the crown jewel.

The 22-year-old swingman secured his first All-Star selection with a slew of career highs, of both the volume and efficiency varieties. He held the fort as a franchise focal point while Zion Williamson worked his way to full strength, then shifted into a co-star role alongside the freshman phenom.

New Orleans outscored opponents by 12.4 points per 100 possessions with Williamson and Ingram on the floor. For context, the Milwaukee Bucks have the season's top net rating at plus-10.7. The Lakers are second at plus-7.1.

The Pelicans should keep this partnership going, and since Ingram is a restricted free agent, they control the outcome of his free agency. They could force him to find his own max offer and match it, but why not communicate a clear commitment to winning by dropping a five-year max offer on his doorstep as soon as the market opens?

Prediction: Ingram signs a full five-year max contract with the Pelicans.


Montrezl Harrell, Los Angeles Clippers

Massive money is headed Harrell's way sooner or later. That much seems certain. But will it come from the Clippers?

They have spent the last three seasons bringing out his best, and in turn, he has helped them create one of the Association's best benches. Each year has brought about new career marks in points and rebounds, peaking with 18.6 and 7.1, respectively, in 2019-20.

Those are big numbers for anyone. Only 19 players league-wide are pairing 18 points with seven boards. But these are silly stats for a second-teamer who logs 27.8 minutes a night. All other 18 players on that list are starters, and none averages fewer than 30 minutes per contest.

Harrell's production can't be ignored. Frontcourt-needy shoppers will surely take notice, and that's where things get complicated for the Clippers. They would presumably love to get him back, but they already have at least $109 million on next season's payroll, and that's before factoring in a new contract for Marcus Morris Sr., whom they gave up a first-round pick to acquire.

That could force Harrell to take his talents elsewhere, perhaps back to his native North Carolina. The Charlotte Hornets have a single center signed beyond this season, and it's the unspectacular Cody Zeller. They also could use more frontcourt scoring to help balance their attack. Harrell checks both boxes, and if he can take another leap, maybe they can follow his lead.

Prediction: Harrell signs a three-year, $50 million deal with the Hornets.