Los Angeles Lakers guard Austin Reaves becomes a restricted free agent this summer. As a restricted free agent, Reaves can sign an offer sheet with any team of his choice and then the Lakers would have 48 hours to match the deal or let the talented fan-favorite walk for nothing.
The Lakers value Reaves, so much so that they refused to trade him to the Brooklyn Nets for Kyrie Irving, sources told Heavy Sports. Michael Scotto of HoopsHype reported on March 16 that Los Angeles and Reaves want to continue their partnership this offseason. However, “multiple teams have Reaves on their free agency radar,” per Scotto.
“Both Austin Reaves and the Lakers want to get a deal done, I’ve been told,” Scotto said. “With that said, I’ve also heard multiple teams have Reaves on their free agency radar. The Lakers can offer him up to four years, $50 million. Something to keep an eye on, in my opinion, would be a Talen Horton-Tucker type of contract that could make sense for both sides with a two-plus-one (two years guaranteed and a third-year option). I think the mid-level exception is his floor. Other teams don’t mind being used as leverage against the Lakers as a big market team. Reaves has played well as a lead facilitator and an efficient scorer for the second unit.”
Reaves is averaging 11.5 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists this season while shooting 51.1% from the field, 38.5% from beyond the arc and 86.0% from the free-throw line. The 24-year-old has a plus-minus of +54.
The Lakers Have to Be Careful With Austin Reaves
The Lakers wanted to re-sign Alex Caruso during the summer of 2021. However, the 29-year-old joined the Chicago Bulls after Los Angeles lowballed him in free agency.
Jovan Buha, who covers the Lakers for The Athletic, believes the purple and gold can’t get “cute” with Reaves.
“This is kind of lining up to potentially be another Alex Caruso situation where he wants to be there, and the Lakers want to retain him, but if they try to get a little too cute with the offer or negotiation, I could see him potentially leaving and going somewhere where he’s going to get the full non-taxpayer mid-level exception,” Buha said on Scotto’s podcast. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he got some cap space into the $12-15 million range from a team.”
Buha thinks Reaves has been the Lakers’ most dependable role player this season. The Arkansas product has played multiple positions for head coach Darvin Ham.
“Behind LeBron (James) and AD (Anthony Davis), he’s been the most dependable role player in the rotation,” Buha said. “I think he’s established himself as someone who’s either capable of being a starting shooting guard in this league or being a sixth man where he’s leading a second unit and closing a lot of games.”
Austin Reaves: ‘I Love Being in Los Angeles’
Reaves told Scotto in February that he loves being in Los Angeles. Lakers legend Kobe Bryant was Reaves’ favorite player growing up.
“I don’t really think that far ahead,” Reaves said about his free agency. “I’m just trying to win games. I love being in Los Angeles, and I love being a Laker. Kobe Bryant was my favorite player growing up, so getting an opportunity to play for the Lakers is a big blessing.”
Reaves has career averages of 9.2 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists with the Lakers.