Rival executive explains what would make Austin Reaves attractive to every NBA team in free agency

Peter Dewey
4 Min Read

The Los Angeles Lakers have a major decision to make with guard Austin Reaves this coming offseason.

Reaves, who is set to become a restricted free agent in the offseason, could command a deal up to four years at $99 million in the open market while the Lakers can only offer him a four-year deal worth $50.8 million.

This season, Reaves has gained the trust of head coach Darvin Ham, something the team is hoping will continue down the line.

“The Lakers want that trust to continue well into the future,” ESPN’s Dave McMenamin wrote. “L.A. will have to extend a $2.2 million qualifying offer to make Reaves a restricted free agent, and because of his early Bird rights, the Lakers can offer him a first-year salary of up to $11.4 million, according to ESPN NBA front-office insider Bobby Marks. If he signs an early Bird deal, it will have to be for at least two years, not including any option years.”

According to McMenamin, a rival Western Conference executive believes that Reaves is an attractive option for “literally every team” as he gets ready to hit free agency this summer.

“There certainly could be outside offers,” McMenamin wrote. “A rival Western Conference executive told ESPN that Reaves’ combination of age, skill set and salary slot would make him an attractive option for ‘literally every team in the league.’ A franchise with the requisite salary-cap space could backload a multiyear offer to Reaves that would pay him $60 million over four years, starting at $11.4 million but leaping to $18.5 million in the final two, according to Marks, but both Reaves and the Lakers sound committed to striking a deal.”

Lakers fans certainly would love for the team to bring Reaves back in the offseason after how well he’s played in the 2022-23 campaign. In just his second regular season in the NBA, Reaves averaged 13.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game while shooting 52.9 percent from the field and 39.8 percent from beyond the arc.

Reaves has really stepped his game up since being added to the starting lineup, and he’s showing he can thrive in the playoffs as well.

Ham inserted Reaves as a starter on March 22, and over the last 10 games of the regular season (all starts), Reaves increased his numbers to 18.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game. He shot 57.1 percent from the field and 48.6 percent from beyond the arc over that stretch.

He gives the Lakers another reliable scoring option outside of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and Reaves has a real knack for drawing fouls and getting to the free-throw line. In those 10 starts to end the regular season, the Arkansas native attempted 5.9 free throws per game.

The issue for the Lakers will be thwarting an offer from another team that would make it tough for them to match and retain Reaves. In an ideal world, the two sides come to an agreement on a deal without him signing an offer sheet from another NBA franchise.

For now, Reaves and the Lakers are focused on the playoffs and beating the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round. The Lakers guard is averaging 17.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists in 37.0 minutes per game through the first five matchups of the series.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.