#Straighttalk: Pay Day

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Most 22-year-olds are nearing the end of their college education and probably knee-deep in debt during that point of their life.

And then there is Anthony Davis.

To the surprise of absolutely no one, the New Orleans Pelicans offered third-year power forward Anthony Davis a five-year contract extension worth nearly $145 million (the maximum allowed by the NBA at this time). Davis is the 16th player over the past decade to receive a maximum contract offer a year before his rookie contract expires.

In only his third NBA season, the 22-year-old averaged 24.4 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.9 blocks in 36.1 minutes per game. Davis’ impressive regular season landed him on the All-NBA First Team.

However, the accolades did not stop there as Davis not only led the Pelicans to the playoffs, he became one of only four players to ever average 30 points and 10 rebounds in their first four career playoff games.

The other three, you ask?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Bob McAdoo, all of who are some of the greatest NBA players of all time.

Needless to say, Davis has emerged as one of the best players in the NBA at a very young age, which only leaves spectators to fantasize about his seemingly unlimited potential. The former Kentucky Wildcat star’s length, athleticism, shooting touch and court vision makes him one of the most versatile players in recent memory.

Considering all of these things, Davis is poised to make a serious contention for the title of the league’s best player within the next couple of seasons.

With LeBron James closing in on the age of 31 by the time the upcoming season tips off (that’s like 50 in basketball years) and the fact Kevin Durant is coming off a nagging foot injury that sidelined him for basically all of last season, Davis has a legitimate chance of becoming the best player in all of basketball within the next two or three years.

It is obvious why the Pelicans are ready to hand Davis the keys to the franchise and ride him as far as he is able to take the team.

However, as tempting as signing your name on the dotted line of a $145 million contract must have sounded to a 22-year-old, the fact Davis signed a multi-year deal with the Pelicans during this offseason leaves many, such as myself, perplexed.

With the NBA announcing a new television deal with ABC/ESPN and Turner that will keep the league on those broadcasters’ channels through 2025 for the cool price of $2.67 billion per year, this means one thing and one thing only: players’ annual salaries are about to explode in 2016. The salary cap for teams in 2016 is expected to rise to $94 million from its current cap of $66.5 million.

Davis, being one of the preeminent stars in the league, could have signed a one-year deal with the Pelicans this offseason while holding out for the 2016 free agent market or as I like to refer to it as “The 2016 Gold Rush.” That five-year contract may actually be somewhere close to the $200 million range in the summer of 2016 compared to the $145 million that Davis agreed to Wednesday morning.

Another factor that Davis should have considered before he resigned with the Pelicans may be even more important than the money.

(Wait, never mind, it’s not more important than the money, but it is really important.)

Davis should have seriously questioned his current team’s front office’s intentions of surrounding him with a championship-caliber roster. Because while Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon are nice complimentary pieces, Davis will need much more help in order to compete with the elite teams of the rigorous western conference.

The good news is Davis is incredibly young to be in this unique position. By the time his new contract is expired, he will only be 27-years-old, which is typically around the age when athletes hit their peak in most professional sports. Barring a freak injury, Davis will have much more time to work toward becoming one of the highest paid and most accomplished NBA players ever.

Malcolm Walton can be contacted at [email protected]

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