There was speculation that Anthony Davis would leave the Los Angeles Lakers and Lebron James if they did not win the NBA championship.
Now, with his first title in hand, Davis has a decision to weigh: stay for a potential dynasty and help James further cement his legacy or begin to start paving his own.
Davis, a native of Chicago and the former 2012 No. 1 overall pick, has entertained going the Lebron-route and returning home to help his city claim a championship.
Just days after Davis signed with the Lakers in 2019, he told USA Today that he wouldn’t “completely rule out ever signing with the hometown Bulls,” adding that “if the opportunity ever presents itself and when that time comes, I’d definitely consider it.”
Davis has sat in unrestricted free agency for over a week, but will undoubtedly be with the Lakers, who are sewing together the details of his contract, this season. But while Davis is on the market and contemplating his future, one local beat reporter has asserted that the Bulls’ new front office should be dialing Davis’ line as much as possible.
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Bulls Need to Start Sending Davis Flowers
The Daily Herald’s Mike McGraw, who has covered the Bulls since 1995, wrote that the Bulls need to start calling Davis or his agent to offer their praise and interest in the star to prepare for a move by the 27-year-old in the next year or two.
The Bulls, who have operated like a small-market team in the country’s third-largest city, should leverage their market and expected available cap after this season to acquire a big-ticket free agent, with Davis being at the top of the list.
Here’s what McGraw said:
As a free agent, Davis can listen to pitches from every team. Arturas Karnisovas should be calling. Marc Eversley should be calling. Billy Donovan should invite him to a socially-distanced lunch…
The point is, the Bulls should make acquiring Davis their No. 1 priority for the next year or two. If it doesn’t work, they can move on to Plan B, C or D, but it’s about time the Bulls try using their location as an advantage, instead of acting like a small-market franchise with no hope of landing a significant free agent. Championship teams aren’t built through the draft anymore.
There’s no better time than now for the Bulls to express how much they admire Davis. He’s a free agent considering his options for the future. It’s within the realm of possibilities that Davis could work his contract so that he’s a free agent again in a year or two. Even if they can’t get past Davis’ agent, Rich Paul, Karnisovas and crew can still send pleasantries in Davis’ direction.
Bulls Are Cleaning House for a High-Profile Free Agent
The Bulls have already released guards Kris Dunn and Shaquille Harrison and have begun to rebuild a roster still hamstrung with guaranteed money for the new era under Arturas Karnisovas, Marc Eversley and Billy Donovan.
Otto Porter and Cristiano Felicio’s contracts are up at the end of the 2020-21 season, which will free up $36 million in cap space for next offseason. Tomas Satoransky and Thaddeus Young have partial guarantees for 2021-22. If they were to cut the two forwards, they could create another $2 million in cap space.
Zach Lavine is by no means safe either. If Donovan decides Lavine has reached his ceiling and the Bulls decide to release Lavine, that would free up enough cap space for two max superstar contracts.
And that’s the exact position a franchise looking to move in a new direction after years of futility will want to be in entering a 2021 free-agent class that will be one of the most talent-rich in history, headlined by Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Rudy Gobert, Victor Oladipo and James. Davis could also be in the mix dependent on the contract he agrees to with the Lakers.
Landing two max superstars almost seems too ideal, but if the franchise is willing to fully commit to a new identity, landing even one of those stars will allow the Bulls the ability to build toward becoming postseason regulars after missing the playoffs each of the past three seasons.