Davis waited until after much of the league’s off-season business had been completed — and after James’s extension — to commit to the deal. Persuading him to sign a maximum-length contract, rather than a shorter-team deal that would have allowed him to return to free agency faster, caps a triumphant few weeks for the Lakers in the wake of their championship season in the N.B.A. bubble at Walt Disney World near Orlando, Fla.
The Lakers appear to have demonstrably upgraded their roster by acquiring the high-scoring guard Dennis Schroder via trade and signing the accomplished frontcourt duo of Montrezl Harrell and the veteran center Marc Gasol in free agency. They also managed to re-sign a few key contributors — Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Markieff Morris and Jared Dudley — to mitigate the departures of Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley and Dwight Howard.
Jeanie Buss, the Lakers’ owner, and Rob Pelinka, the general manager, faced considerable criticism after James’s first season in Los Angeles, in 2018-19. That year, the Lakers extended their playoff drought to a franchise-record six consecutive seasons. Magic Johnson abruptly stepped down as team president in April 2019, and the Lakers’ attempts to hire Tyronn Lue as the head coach collapsed. But Buss and Pelinka rebounded in grand fashion, starting with the hiring of Frank Vogel as coach and the June 2019 trade with New Orleans to land Davis.
The Lakers, who are scheduled to hold their first group practice of the new season on Sunday, will open as the league’s consensus favorites to win it all. The Lakers were not even the consensus favorites in their own city last season after the Los Angeles Clippers’ splashy acquisitions of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
Davis averaged 27.7 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.2 steals in last season’s playoffs, raising his performance from a strong regular season in which he finished second to Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo in the league’s defensive player of the year voting.