During 2019’s wild free agency period, stars like Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler and Kemba Walker flew off the board just minutes after teams were legally allowed to start contacting them. Questions about tampering quickly followed.
But what is tampering? Why is it so difficult for the NBA to enforce? Why does it seem like the Lakers are always getting in trouble?
This summer, the Los Angeles Lakers traded Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, and three first-round draft picks for superstar Anthony Davis, which is like going to a car dealership and trading in a Dodge Neon for a Cadillac Escalade. That’s quite the come up, right? Until you drive off the lot and the check engine light immediately turns on, or you have to go back to the dealership in a week because the fuel filter started leaking gas.
That’s Anthony Davis: a brilliant player who can elevate a franchise to championship contention, but who’s prone to muscle contusions, torn labrums, and freak injuries like this:
On Tuesday night, the 26-year-old had to leave the game in the third quarter after literally busting his ass on the hardwood against the New York Knicks.
Most would just Kanye shrug and chalk it up to Anthony Davis being Anthony Davis—he was diagnosed with a bruised sacrum after x-rays came back negative—but the timing of this particular injury raised a few eyebrows, considering it was immediately after he declined a lucrative four-year, $146 million contract extension from the Lakers, according to Bleacher Report.
So what would possess a Cadillac Escalade with a defective hot exhaust system to turn down that kind of money? Easy. Because there are even bigger dollars waiting for him this summer no matter how many weekends he spends at an auto repair shop.
This summer, Davis becomes an unrestricted free agent. While under contract, the most the Lakers can offer him is the $146 million he already turned down. But once his contract expires in July, he’s eligible to sign a five-year, $202 million deal—which is about $56 million more than he’d have otherwise. And in what was probably the worst kept secret in the entire league, there wasn’t a chance in hell he was signing the extension that the Lakers offered.
ESPN analysts Rachel Nichols, Brian Windhorst, and Scottie Pippen break it all down beautifully here:
There’s a degree of risk involved for the Lakers because after becoming a free agent, Davis can sign with any team in the league, but the former New Orleans Pelican is expected to remain in Los Angeles until LeBron’s old ass inevitably retires to a nursing home—or until Davis gets traded in for Maserati.