The Los Angeles Lakers are expected to look at retaining guard Austin Reaves this coming offseason.
This is a good sign for Los Angeles, as Reaves has been a key contributor for the team since being signed as an undrafted free agent.
“The Lakers don’t make this deal without the intention of re-signing [Rui] Hachimura this summer,” Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer wrote. “While second-round picks hold varying valuations depending on front office opinions, sending out three to acquire Hachimura and obtain his Bird rights is a significant price considering his $18.8 million cap hold. Los Angeles could clear just north of $30 million in space if the Lakers were to renounce Hachimura and other players’ rights, but the team is expected to also look to retain combo guard Austin Reaves. A dream scenario of signing or trading for a max-contract-level player just got a whole lot trickier.”
Reaves, who is in his second NBA season with the Lakers, has really thrived for the team in mainly a bench role. He’s shooting 36.0 percent from beyond the arc (up from 31.7 percent last season) and 48.8 percent from the field while averaging 10.8 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game.
The Lakers made the mistake of letting Alex Caruso walk in free agency to the Chicago Bulls a few offseasons ago, but it appears the team knows that it has a solid rotation piece in Reaves.
It was reported that Reaves could command more money than Caruso did on the open market this coming offseason, but the Lakers seem intent on keeping as much talent as possible around LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
When Caruso left the Lakers following the 2020-21 season, he signed a four-year deal with the Bulls that is worth more than $36 million.
Reaves will be a restricted free agent following the 2022-23 season, so Los Angeles would be able to match any offer sheet he signs as long as it extends him a qualifying offer.
Reaves played collegiate ball at Wichita State University and the University of Oklahoma, and he immediately made an impact for the Lakers as a rookie. The young guard appeared in 61 games for the Lakers and made 19 starts in the 2021-22 season.
For Los Angeles, the key is building a true contender around James and Davis next season. The Lakers have let a lot of important players walk (or traded them away) in recent seasons, including Caruso and Malik Monk at the guard position.
Since Reaves will be a restricted free agent, there’s a better chance the Lakers will be able to retain him since they could match any deal he signs.
At just 24 years old, Reaves could be a solid rotation piece for years to come, especially if he continues to build on the improvements he’s made since his rookie season.