The Houston Rockets are particular threats because of how much money they can spend.
Houston reportedly is interested in an extensive list of players, with Reaves and Hachimura among them.
“Equipped with so much spending power, the most in the NBA, and a coach, Ime Udoka, that is popular among NBA players, the Rockets have not prioritized specific targets as much as a pool of players to pursue,” wrote Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.
“According to a person with knowledge of their thinking, they have interest in the [Milwaukee] Bucks’ Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez, the [Denver] Nuggets’ Bruce Brown, the [Utah] Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson, the Lakers’ Rui Hachimura and Austin Reaves, the [Brooklyn] Nets’ Cam Johnson, the [Golden State] Warriors’ Donte DiVincenzo, the [Memphis] Grizzlies’ Dillon Brooks, the [Toronto] Raptors’ Jakob Poeltl and the [Dallas] Mavericks’ Dwight Powell. Media reports have tied them to James Harden and Fred VanVleet.”
Reaves and Hachimura were valuable players for the Lakers as they rallied at the end of the 2022-23 season to get into the play-in round. The Lakers then stormed through the playoffs all the way to the Western Conference Finals, where they were swept by the Denver Nuggets.
In the regular season, Reaves averaged 10.5 points per game before the All-Star break and 17.6 points per game afterward. He also averaged more than 30 minutes per game in March and April. Hachimura arrived in Los Angeles in late January in a trade with the Washington Wizards and helped the Lakers go 21-13 after his debut with the team.
The Lakers reportedly are prepared to match offer sheets for Reaves, which could possibly approach $100 million in value. Los Angeles selected Jalen Hood-Schifino with the No. 17 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft and believes the Indiana University product can become a complementary fit next to the 25-year-old.
The Lakers and Rockets might be competing for other players as well, with one Western Conference general manager thinking that DiVincenzo could be a Lakers target this offseason.
Los Angeles also has been recently linked to Myles Turner, Buddy Hield and Dorian Finney-Smith, among others. The Lakers are seemingly trying to do whatever they can to give LeBron James a real opportunity to pursue another NBA championship.
The Rockets hired Udoka in April. In one season with the Boston Celtics, he coached them to the NBA Finals before he was later suspended and dismissed for an improper workplace relationship.