Lakers Q&A: The Anthony Davis contract extension and more

Lakers forward Anthony Davis prepares to shoot against Nuggets forwards Aaron Gordon and Michael Porter Jr.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Hey everyone, it’s L.A. Times beat writer Dan Woike, and welcome to the Lakers newsletter, where SPF stands for “some power forward.”

Even though free agency is essentially done, summer league has wrapped and the schedule for next season hasn’t been released yet, there still are topics to discuss.


I reached out to my followers to see what was on their mind in the first week of August. And with one notable exception, they asked the right questions.

The one big question they didn’t ask, I filled in. So let’s answer some questions.

What’s the latest with the Anthony Davis extension?

—@JoeEveryman, Anytown U.S.A.

OK, so no one actually asked this question, but it’s definitely on the front burner for the Lakers, so let’s dig in with what I’m hearing.

According to people with knowledge of the situation, there’s strong interest from the Lakers in getting an extension done with the 30-year-old big man. Indications are that the team is prepared to make a full three-year offer despite concerns about Davis’ durability.

The sides can formally start speaking today.

Davis, who has two years left on his deal, does possess a player option following this season. A max extension, which would pay him an additional $170 million through the 2027-28 season, would cement him as a pillar of the franchise. With LeBron James hinting at retirement for the first time this past spring, locking in Davis would give the team a championship-caliber teammate ready-made for any superstar the team might pursue. The summer of 2026, provided that the planet hasn’t been overcooked like fish sticks left in an air fryer for too long, is particularly stacked with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander at the top of a deep group of potential free agents.

While it’s unknown what Davis and his camp will seek, it would seem like a no-brainer for both sides to knock this out before training camp, with the organization continuing to build on the momentum it seized last February at the trade deadline.


The Lakers retired both of Kobe Bryant’s jersey numbers when he called it a career. Will they do the same for LeBron James’ No. 6 and No. 23?

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The expectation here is that it gets done, with just the particulars about options and other terms to iron out.

He’s earned it. The Lakers have had Davis for four seasons, and the two he’s been healthy at the end, they won an NBA title and made it to the conference finals. Last season, after suffering a foot injury, he returned in late January and played through the finish line in late May — four consecutive months of high-level play, including absolute defensive dominance through most of the playoffs.

No one will be overthinking this one.

What are the internal expectations for AD given his (likely) new contract? Are they expecting more of the same or an MVP-type season?


I think the Lakers are realistic about Davis, viewing him as having the talent of a most-valuable-player candidate and the ability to show it for stretches, but not the durability and consistency to be MVP.

And that’s totally fine. That’s not what they’re paying him to do. Recognition as the top defender in the NBA would seem much more likely should Davis stay healthy.


An extension wouldn’t change their view of him at all. The Lakers believe they’re a championship team with him on the court and that’s why they’re going to pay him.

What’s the likelihood of signing Christian Wood?


Who have the Lakers been highest on to fill the 14th roster spot?


What’s the latest you’re hearing about the Lakers in general? What about the likelihood of a Christian Wood signing? Are they moving on to someone else?



We’re about a month removed from general manager Rob Pelinka speaking to reporters in Las Vegas, saying he was hopeful to fill the team’s 14th roster spot before training camp. That timeline is still in place, but the sense I get is that the team would prefer to get something done sooner rather than later.

Wood, from what I can tell, still seems like the top choice despite the defensive shortcomings and personality issues detailed here.

If Wood is waiting for a heftier paycheck than the league minimum that the Lakers can offer, so be it. But if his market is the minimum, and here in early August it sure seems like it is, the Lakers believe they offer the best situation for the talented big man.

Like they did with Malik Monk two years ago and with Dennis Schroder last season, the Lakers have a track record of taking players on minimum contracts and showcasing them in ways that can lead to raises the following offseason, helping fight off the notion that once you sign a minimum contract, you limit your earning potential.

Considering that the Lakers aren’t naive about the chances of James and Davis playing 160 combined games, there are going to be shots that need to be taken and points that need to be scored.


The big question would be whether the Lakers’ structure — headlined by coach Darvin Ham and James — could keep Wood focused on winning while eliminating some of his bad habits and overcoming some deficiencies.

While he’s already played for seven teams, there’s at least some internal optimism that the Lakers could make it work as stop No. 8.

Should the Lakers sign a non-guaranteed center for the 15th roster spot or keep it open?


It’s pretty low-risk with non-guaranteed deals, but if you’re going to sign a 15th guy, regardless of position, it had better be someone OK with not playing a lot because there aren’t a lot of minutes up for grabs. The last thing this team needs is a veteran who wants to play minutes he didn’t earn and that don’t exist (see the 2021-22 Lakers). I’d probably lean toward keeping it open.

If you had the choice, who do the Lakers play on opening day?



Easy — Pelicanos de CSL — the pro team based in Cabo San Lucas. Maybe play ‘em for a week or two on the road.

If Not? Either the Clippers (with both teams finally healthy?) or the Nuggets.

We should get the Lakers to play an exhibition game in Dublin, Ireland?


One too many pints and you don’t know what a question is, KC? But sure, let’s do it. The Lakers feel due for some kind of international trip.

Lakers guard Austin Reaves beats Nuggets forward Bruce Brown to the basket for a layup.
Lakers guard Austin Reaves beats Nuggets forward Bruce Brown to the basket for a layup during a playoff game last season.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

How real of a competition is there between Gabe & DLo? Are the Lakers thinking of putting AD/Hayes in lineups together?


Let’s start with the second question first. I do think there’s a desire for Davis to play more power forward to try to recapture the 2020 magic — though I’m skeptical about how good of an idea this is. I think it might get a look, possibly with newcomer Jaxson Hayes, but I think the Lakers’ best lineups all will have Davis playing center.

As far as the point guard “battle” — there’s inherent competition at that spot, but it might not be an even one. Teams have to ask themselves what works best, and if Gabe Vincent’s adaptability better complements a second unit, then so be it, even if he has a better camp. But generally, teams try to take the path with the least resistance, and that would mean keeping D’Angelo Russell in the starting lineup with Austin Reaves — the backcourt with which they (mostly) closed last season.

The Lakers front office really harped on continuity this offseason and followed through with the moves they made in free agency.. With that being said, are there any trade deadline deals you could see them make or you’d personally like to further solidify them as contenders?



February is a long way away and it’s impossible to know what the team will need then. I do know that the Lakers are much better positioned to do a deal than at the last two deadlines because of their salary-cap sheets. They’ve got so many mid-level contracts to mix and match with some young assets to correct their course if needed.

With Max Christie’s showing in summer league, and him being in a similar contract position as Austin Reaves was coming up next summer, do you think the Lakers pivot to envisioning Austin as the primary PG for the future? Do the Lakers view Austin and Max as a formidable backcourt to build around post-LeBron?


Reaves believes he can play point guard — it’s the position he played growing up and he’s plenty comfortable running an offense. But one thing that’s often undersold is how physically taxing that position can be. Reaves is built to be more of a positionless combo guard who can handle some point responsibilities while still playing off the ball. As far as Christie goes, I know people are really excited about him. He’s still crazy young — he turns 21 in February — and needs to show he can fill in the right gaps on the court as a role player.

He never looked out of place last season in limited minutes, especially on the defensive end. But as far as his ceiling goes, it’s reasonable to see him as a starting guard someday. When? That’s sort of up to his development.

The unsung

I hope everyone got a chance to read my appreciation for former Clippers assistant coach Bob Thate.


I profiled Thate for the Orange County Register years ago and struck up a bit of a friendship with him. He was one of the NBA’s nicest people, a meticulously detailed coach with the misfortune of having to tell millionaire basketball players that they couldn’t shoot.

And when they listened to Bob, after plenty of work, they usually could.

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Pro sports leagues are full of people like him, the ones working in the shadows with little publicity — and people should know that Bob was special.

I hope my story helped people get to know a person whom hardcore basketball people respected and liked. He was a special guy and I’ll miss seeing him, arms crossed, studying a player’s jump shot on an NBA court.

Song of the week

Dripfield” by Goose

Boy, do I love six-minute rock songs, and this one by jam band risers Goose hits a lot of sweet spots for me. It’s got killer drums, a driving sound and Peter Gabriel vibes to spare. It’s kind of a jam band summer for me, and Goose is definitely in the rotation.

In case you missed it

Will Lakers give LeBron James the Kobe treatment and retire both numbers when he hangs it up?

Wilt Chamberlain’s jersey from first L.A. Lakers championship team is for sale


Appreciation: Bob Thate, shooting coach extraordinaire, leaves a lasting legacy

Shaquille O’Neal lists his top 10 greatest NBA players, still ‘all good with Dr. J’s list’

Lakers to retire LeBron James’ jersey. But which one, No. 23 or No. 6, or maybe both?

Q&A: Magic Johnson on Commanders ownership, Lakers’ title chances and Victor Wembanyama

Until next time...

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