Although expectations for the Los Angeles Lakers greatly increased after the team traded Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, and multiple future draft picks to the New Orleans Pelicans to acquire their superstar big man, the reality remains that he will be entering the option year of his contract after this season. That would make him eligible for free agency if he chooses to opt-out of that final year, thus making him a possible one-year rental for the Purple and Gold. And while most observers believe there’s a good chance Davis will remain with the Lakers beyond the 2019-20 season, Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher recently explained why he has his doubts about this possibility.
Appearing on a recent episode of former NBA player Brian Scalabrine’s Scal and Pals podcast (via Twitter), Bucher stressed that Davis is “not fully committed” to staying with the Lakers for the long term, explaining that the 26-year-old forward/center and his agent, Rich Paul, are planning to see how Los Angeles performs in the 2019-20 season before evaluating their options next summer. However, the Bleacher Report writer continued by suggesting that the main reason Davis might not be in for the long haul is the very fact that he’s playing alongside four-time NBA MVP LeBron James.
“When you play with LeBron James, if you win, it’s because you’re playing with LeBron James. If you lose, or if you fail to reach your target, it’s because of you,” Bucher stressed.
Lakers’ Anthony Davis & Dwight Howard get tangled up during a physical first day of training camp pic.twitter.com/niAwEEtBvQ— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) September 28, 2019
Bucher added that based on his perceptions of the Lakers’ culture at the present, team owner Jeanie Buss may take the blame before James does if the team fails to satisfy expectations for the 2019-20 campaign. He then hinted that newly acquired Los Angeles Clippers stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George spurned the Lakers for the crosstown rivals because they don’t want to end up in a similar situation to what Davis might experience as the “No. 2” player behind James taking the blame if the team underperforms.
“You want to be the No. 1 guy and you want to be able to create your universe. You don’t get to do that with LeBron. And it’s not LeBron’s fault. It’s just the magnitude of his success and the magnitude of his stardom that, no matter who you are, if you play with LeBron, you’re going to be the second banana.”
Despite concerns regarding his recent injury history, Davis recently claimed to be “100 percent healthy” and prepared to make a big impact for the Lakers in his first year with the team. But even if he plays up to expectations, Fadeaway World cautioned that the former All-NBA big man might have a “strong incentive to bail” if the Lakers disappoint as a team. On the other hand, the publication also opined the onus would still be on Davis to fulfill the responsibilities of being an “Alpha” for one of the teams expected to compete for the Western Conference championship — and maybe even an NBA title — in the 2019-20 season.