SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah Jazz center Ed Davis wants to see the NBA season resume. The veteran big man spoke to HoopsHype’s Alex Kennedy about the latest turmoil regarding the season’s return. Despite the concerns, Davis said his Jazz teammates are “ready to play.”
Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving and Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard have voiced their opposition to finishing the season. A percentage of the league’s players fear that the NBA returning would serve as a distraction from the protests for racial equality that have swept the nation. Other players, including Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, are worried about the injury risk they face by returning to action.
Davis, a 10-year veteran said he understood the players’ arguments against finishing the season. However, the reserve center sees he close to the season as an opportunity to institute change for the Black community.
Davis on Jazz and NBA Return to Play
Davis told Kennedy that based on his conversation with teammates, the Jazz are ready to play.
“I know a couple guys from the Jazz have concerns,” Davis said. “But in our group chat when we talk, everybody’s on board and we’re ready to play.”
Davis cited both Mitchell and teammate Jordan Clarkson as having opportunities to sign contract extensions this offseason. The veteran said he recognized the risk they face by returning to the floor without a new deal.
“If I’m Jordan Clarkson or Donovan [Mitchell], I might not want to play,” Davis said. “Just for the simple fact that I had a good year and I’m looking for a contract extension, so why would I risk getting hurt?”
Mitchell is a candidate to sign a contract extension this summer before his rookie deal expires in 2021. The Jazz are likely to extend the guard a max offer sheet worth well over $100 million. Clarkson will be an unrestricted free agent.
On a call among some 80 NBA players Friday, Mitchell voiced his concern about the pandemic and the injury risk. Davis was also on the call.
“Sources say that Donovan expressed his concerns about coronavirus (which he has already had) and the very high risk of injury.” Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks tweeted. “That was the context of his comments on playing/not playing.”
While Davis understands the risk pending free agents face, he also said that not playing poses significant financial harm to young players. There is a strong belief around the league that NBA owners will use their power to abandon the current CBA to negotiate a new agreement over the summer. With Basketball Related Income dropping dramatically during the coronavirus pandemic, league owners may force the players into a less friendly share of the league’s income.
“If we don’t play, I honestly think there’s a chance that we won’t play next year,” Davis warned.
“It’s more about the future guys – a guy like Donovan Mitchell, who is looking at a $160 million contract but he might only get $90 million if the cap drops.”
Using the Season to Support Equality
In addition to supporting future players, Davis sees finishing the season as a way to help the Black community. The center said he has been a long time supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement and wants to see the NBA use its platform to further racial equality.
“We can take that money – those billions and billions of dollars – that we’re going to make and pour it back in the community,” Davis said. “You can look at it like that – that us losing out on that money would hurt generations of people.”
“You got to have money to do some of these things and make some of these things happen. [Change] isn’t just gonna happen because of us boycotting and not playing and shutting it down. And then, we’re really gonna be set back.”
Davis sees the unique circumstances of having 22 teams in one city to finish the season as an opportunity to spur change.
“It’s the only time you’re going to get 22 teams together for seven weeks, so we can really get down and meet every couple of weeks and do some really cool things,” Davis said. “There’s some really great stuff that we can do for the world. I feel like all of us doing it together and working with the NBA and working with these owners, we can really help out.”
Separation Among NBA Players
One of the issues plaguing the NBA Players Association is the discrepancy in earnings between veterans and young players. Davis recognized that he has made a significant living during his career, but younger players may not be as financially set.
“It means a lot more when it comes from the role players and the guys that [aren’t stars],” Davis said of finishing the season. “There are so many different perspectives because there are so many different levels in the NBA. Like I said, it’s so easy for the superstars to say, ‘Let’s just not play,’ and they’re good. But some guys can’t just do that. There are lives on the line and, like I said, generational wealth on the line.”
Before the season returns, the NBA and the NBA Players Association are expected to agree on terms that would allow those players to sit out the remainder of the season.
“The NBA and NBPA are expected to agree on a provision that wouldn’t require players to restart the season, nor subject them to discipline for staying home,” sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. “The players would lose a portion of salary for those games missed.
As calls to end the season persist, Davis wants to see the league return next month.
“I’m all for us playing and I feel like we need to play,” Davis said. “I think a lot of these guys know really need to educate themselves on what’s really going to happen if we do take a stand and don’t play.”