'They understand AD and his work ethic has shown': Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul sounds off on Anthony Davis' whopping $186,000,000 extension

Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors - Game One
Rich Paul sounds off on Anthony Davis' whopping $186,000,000 extension

With the Los Angeles Lakers agreeing to grant Anthony Davis a three-year, $186 million extension, the Lakers didn’t just signal their appreciation for Davis’ role in the team’s 2020 NBA title run and its recent trip to the Western Conference Finals.

It also showed that the Lakers prioritized keeping LeBron James and Davis as their core players beyond the 2023-24 season rather than worrying about Davis’ extensive injury history.

“They understand AD and his work ethic has shown,” Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul told Sportskeeda on Friday. “He has some injuries, but it wasn’t due to him not working. It’s not like he came into camp overweight or showed any laziness. There were just fluke things. That happens in the game.”

Ever since the Lakers acquired Davis from New Orleans in the 2019 offseason, Davis has played in only 194 out of a possible 308 regular-season games due to various ailments. Davis also missed a combined 26 games last season, including 23 to treat a stressed right foot.

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Nonetheless, the Lakers became increasingly encouraged last season with Davis’ play and ability to absorb injuries. Following a 20-game absence because of his stressed right foot from Dec. 18, 2022 through Jan. 24, 2023, Davis only missed three more games as part of the team’s plan to limit him on back-to-backs. Otherwise, Davis did not experience a significant injury.

The Lakers also have pinpointed Davis’ presence both offensively and defensively along with their trade deadline moves as the primary reasons for finishing with the NBA’s third-best record following the trade deadline (18-9). As a seventh seed, the Lakers then advanced past Minnesota (Play-In tournament), Memphis (six games in first round) and Golden State (six games in second round) before losing to Denver in four games in the Western Conference Finals. The 30-year-old Davis averaged stellar numbers both in the regular-season (25.9 points on a 56.3 % clip along with 12.6 rebounds and 2.6 blocks) and in the playoffs (22.6 points on a 52% clip, along with 14.1 rebounds and 3.1 blocks).

“[The Lakers] weren’t caught up in that,” Paul said about Davis’ injury history. “When you look at their style of play and what AD can bring to the table, it’s just something that was important to the team.”

That’s not to say the Lakers aren’t worried about Davis’ durability. They acquired free-agent center Jaxson Hayes and hope to add another center for their 14th roster spot partly in hopes to reduce Davis’ workload and to complement him occasionally with additional interior help.

That hardly stopped the Lakers, however, granting Davis a three-year extension on the first day he became eligible for it. As ESPN first reported, Davis has a deal worth $270 million when accounting for the two years and $84 million left on his current contract.

Though Paul said both sides are currently finalizing if he will have any player options on the deal, Paul said that the deal will not include a team option. James remains under contract through the 2024-25 season, including a player option following the 2023-24 campaign in what will be his 21st NBA season.

Jeanie Buss, Rob Pelinka dropped hints about Anthony Davis' future

Last week, Sportskeeda asked Lakers governor Jeanie Buss about the team’s interest in granting Davis an extension. Buss said, “Our intention is that we want to keep continuity with our team. I’ll leave it at that.” Buss also deferred further comment to Rob Pelinka, the Lakers executive vice president of basketball operations and general manager.

During NBA Las Vegas Summer League last month, Pelinka declined to express outright interest because of the NBA’s restrictions on speaking about pending contract negotiations. But Pelinka tipped his hand by complimenting Davis.

“I couldn’t think any more highly of Anthony Davis as a Lakers and as a player,” Pelinka said. “He’s helped deliver a championship to our franchise. He has been an incredible captain and leader. You saw last [season] how he was willing to play through a hard foot injury to get our team to the Western Conference Finals. We just love having him as part of our team.”

Follow NBA writer Mark Medina on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Threads.

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