Brooklyn Nets center Ed Davis again said publicly he wants to stay a Net. One of the biggest bargains on the market last summer, he’s the perfect backup big.
As part of a broader piece in The Athletic (subscription required) regarding the Nets’ options at the trade deadline, Davis told Michael Scotto that he would much prefer to remain with the Nets, even as he looks ahead to free agency this summer.
Davis came to the Nets last July and has turned into one of the biggest bargains from the 2018 free-agent class. Signed for the one-year, $4.45 million biannual exception, Davis has given Brooklyn something it had lacked — quality big man depth.
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Davis has provided the Nets with toughness and an embarrassing wealth of rebounding even in limited minutes as a backup. Davis, who matched a season-high with 16 rebounds in 25 minutes in Monday’s win over the Sacramento Kings, is averaging 8.6 rebounds in just 18.2 minutes per game.
That is a career-high pace for the 29-year-old, as is his per-36 minutes rate of 17.1 rebounds.
In raw numbers, Davis is 14th in the NBA with 137 offensive rebounds. But while Davis has accumulated that total in 854 minutes, no one ahead of him on the less has logged less than 1,000.
He leads the NBA in offensive rebound percentage at 14.8 and in total rebound percentage at 22.5.
Davis accepts his role as the understudy — and mentor — to second-year center Jarrett Allen, a foundation piece for the franchise and someone in whom Davis sees great potential. Earlier this month, he told the New York Post‘s Brian Lewis:
"“Just trying to help him out as much as possible. I got big expectations for him. I think he’s a $100 million player, so he’s got to go get it.”"
Allen said that Davis’ example, as well as the veteran’s instruction, has paid a big dividend this season.
"“Just seeing Ed out there, he fights for every rebound — offensively, defensively. He gave a spark for everybody, including me.“I take (Davis’ coaching) pretty well because I know he has my best interests in mind and he knows I’m capable of doing the things he says, so I know I’m going to try to do it the next play.“It’s developed over the course of the season. I really didn’t know Ed at first, but I knew he was a good guy and I started trusting him, seeing how he plays on the court. Whatever he’s doing works, so I might as well follow it.”"
Davis’ most recent comments to Scotto were not the first time he’s indicated a preference for remaining in Brooklyn beyond this season
He’s been a terrific fit and has been a valuable part of the franchise’s return to respectability this season. Keeping him for the longer haul seems like a no-brainer, provided the dollars make sense.
The Nets may have a bit of a situational advantage as well. With almost half the players in the league either on expiring contracts or holding player options for next season, the market for a reserve big man may not heat up quite as quickly.
The Nets have five expiring contracts this summer. Besides Davis, veterans DeMarre Carroll and Jared Dudley will hit unrestricted free agency, while D’Angelo Russell and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson are each in the final year of their rookie contracts and will be restricted free agents on July 1.
Retaining Ed Davis would accomplish several ends. The Brooklyn Nets would keep perhaps the best backup center in the NBA and retain one of their veteran leaders, while Jarrett Allen would continue to get direction from a player who is a sort of in-house positional coach as well.