Windhorst: Anthony Davis May Structure Lakers Contract to Help Giannis Pursuit

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistNovember 24, 2020

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, right, drives to the basket as Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, March 6, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Anthony Davis has yet to sign a new contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, and his final decision may hinge on whether Giannis Antetokounmpo takes a supermax deal with the Milwaukee Bucks.

ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported Monday on Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin that Davis could be waiting on the two-time reigning MVP so that he could structure his deal to open a window for the Lakers.

"I think there are two star players waiting to sign to see what Giannis does," Windhorst said (via RealGM). "That's Anthony Davis. He's coming back to the Lakers, but he may change the alteration of his contract, the way it's structured, to give the Lakers a window, if not for Giannis but for somebody in a one-plus-one. Because that's what LeBron is now on.

"And Bam Adebayo. If Bam Adebayo signs a max contract, the Heat will not have the room. But if he waits a year, then they will."

Teams are already planning for what could be a free-agent bonanza in 2021. In addition to Antetokounmpo and Adebayo, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James, Rudy Gobert, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Jrue Holiday and Victor Oladipo are eligible to hit the market.

General managers are doing what they can to keep their 2021-22 salary-cap commitments as flexible as possible.

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Goran Dragic, Andre Iguodala and Meyers Leonard all have team options for the Miami Heat in 2021. According to Sportsnet's Michael Grange, the second year of Fred VanVleet's four-year, $85 million contract declines by 8 percent from his starting salary of $21.3 million, thus giving the Toronto Raptors a little wiggle room. The Lakers have five players signed to deals beyond 2020-21.

Even if the team has the cap space to do so, signing Antetokounmpo might be tough for Los Angeles.

Kevin Durant's time with the Golden State Warriors showed how joining what's already a championship-winning squad may not be all that fulfilling. Antetokounmpo could be wary of making a similar jump to the Lakers or whoever is coming off a title run in the 2021 Finals.

But even if they don't land Giannis, the sheer volume of talent that figures to be available gives the Lakers plenty of incentive to allow themselves the opportunity to pair another star alongside Davis and James.