Anthony Davis is the 2018-19 MVP frontrunner.
This isn’t a rash statement. This is based on an remarkable one-and-done year at Kentucky and 6+ years at an NBA level but not a thing to show for it. Under John Calipari at Kentucky, Davis won the AP Player of the year for 2011-12, the NABC Defensive Player of the year, and at least 10 other awards that told us he would be something in the NBA. He’s due. As it turns out, Davis also had some plans for his future in the NBA.
It was recently reported that Davis and his only NBA agent, thus far, would be parting ways while Davis still has 2 years left on his contract with New Orleans. While 10 years ago this may not have meant much, in the current NBA this action speaks louder than Boston in the Garden. Thad Foucher, a native of New Orleans, has been Davis’ agent since he was the number one draft pick the same year as Damian Lillard in 2012. While in theory agents are there to serve as representation for the players and their best interests, at the end of the day the percentage they take home only grows with the contract’s grand total. It should be noted that Foucher serves as Russell Westbrook’s agent too, a player who recently signed the big contract in a small market. In a talent-infested Western Conference, it would be fair to assume Westbrook understood the “sacrifice” of taking a bigger check versus going to a more talented team with less payroll for himself; his grandkids’ grandkids won’t have to worry about their college tuition.
It just so happens, that Rich Paul of Klutch Sports is Davis’ leading option for new agents; the same agent as some guy named LeBron James that just made his own kind of decision. While LeBron is in his own category of player agency, this kind of business approach is not uncommon in the NBA these days. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant were both left unhappy in their small markets for very different reasons in recent years. Durant, teammates with Westbrook in OKC and arguably the closest we have to LeBron’s predecessor, was not happy to lose in the playoffs each year for a big contract; he wanted a ring. On the other side of the coin, Irving was not happy to play sidekick to LeBron no matter how many rings he won in the process; the chance to lead a team of his own with real camaraderie to back it up meant more. They both ended up having All-Stars surround them as analysts project them to face each other in the finals this year so can you really definitively say one was right?
LeBron has a history of favoring his Klutch Sports brethren; please refer to Tristan Thompson and JR Smith’s current Cleveland contracts if you have any doubt about that. But some does not mean all. Ben Simmons is also currently with Klutch but finishing out his rookie contract with the 76ers. Whoever runs with Klutch Sports is automatically in the “Who will join LeBron in LA?” conversation, but the Summer 2019 free agency market will make it open season.
With roughly $500 million in cap space next summer, teams are going to be willing to make big moves. The Blazers will be no exception. While the team will still have Meyers Leonard and Evan Turner’s hefty contracts weighing our salary down, the option to unload them via trade package or mystery plan B is much more realistic. The looming truth, no matter the outcome, is that both CJ McCollum and Lillard will also have the possibility of entertaining pre-agency in the summers to come. They will be able to either double down on “Portland forever” comments or truly exercise their right to get the best contract for them. I’ve already done the unthinkable and pictured them in other teams jerseys. And frankly if Blazers management isn’t able to figure this out, I hope Dame and CJ (and Anthony Davis) realize their worth. And that other teams will, in the words of Sheed, cut that check.