No Scenario Where Lakers Let ‘Third-Best Player’ Walk in Free Agency

Austin Reaves

Getty Austin Reaves and D'Angelo Russell of the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Los Angeles Lakers are going to keep Austin Reaves around, regardless of the outcome of the Western Conference Finals.

Reaves was signed as an undrafted free agent back in 2021 but has transformed into a key piece for the Lakers alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. He averaged 13.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists this season and has started all 15 of the Lakers’ playoff games. Reaves has played more than 35 minutes per game in the postseason, scoring 16.9 points and shooting 44.2% from the field.

Reaves will be a restricted free agent this offseason but he’ll be a priority for the Lakers.

“There’s no way they’re letting him walk,” ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on the Hoop Collective podcast Sunday. “Because they absolutely had egg dripping from their chin on letting Alex Caruso walk. And Reaves, let’s just be honest, he’s their third-best player.”

The situation with Caruso was a regrettable one for the Lakers. He ended up agreeing to a four-year, $37 million deal with the Chicago Bulls, which was too rich for LA. His presence was missed and his play in Los Angeles was no fluke. He earned a first-team All-Defensive nod this season. The Lakers can’t afford to make the same mistake twice.

Lakers Will Have Competition for Reaves as Restricted FA

Noted NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN echoed the sentiment from Windhorst on Reaves, adding in Rui Hachimura as a player that will be on the Lakers’ list of priorities for the offseason.

“I don’t see any scenario where the Lakers would not match on both. They have to,” Wojnarowski said. “They’ve proved themselves to be win-now players with LeBron and Anthony Davis on their timeline (and) these are both starting-level players … Again, they will match on those two. They just cannot let them leave.”

The Lakers can offer Reaves a four-year deal worth a little over $50 million. Danny Leroux of The Athletic laid out a situation where a team could potentially put an offer sheet on the table worth $98.67 million for Reaves.

Marc Stein recently reported that “there will definitely be a team or two that offers more than the Lakers want to spend.”

Austin Reaves Wants to Stay With Lakers

Austin Reaves on LeBron, Lakers, and Money | “Thank God 'Bron had a minicamp!” | S2 E21In an interview conducted on location in Los Angeles, POINT FORWARD welcomes Los Angeles Laker AUSTIN REAVES to the show. With ANDRE IGUODALA unavailable due to Golden State Warrior commitments, fellow host EVAN TURNER holds us down and goes deep with the red-hot Reaves about his upbringing in tiny Newark, Arkansas. While most of his…2023-03-24T19:49:51Z

If a team comes to the table with a hefty offer sheet, it will come down to Reaves weighing his loyalty to the Lakers and how much he’s willing to give up to stay put in LA.

He’s expressed an interest in staying with the Lakers, although Reaves is now 24 years old and has to capitalize while he can.

“I would like to be here, it’s the NBA though, it’s a business at the end of the day. And unfortunately for me I wasn’t talented enough to come in the league at 18, 19 years old, so I’m a couple contracts behind somebody that is a one-and-done,” Reaves said on the “Point Forward” podcast in March. “So anybody that says we don’t play the game (for money) to me is lying, because I feel like ‘if you wasn’t getting paid, you wouldn’t be here doing it.’ Obviously everybody loves the game, but I want to make as much money as I can and be as successful as I can no matter where it’s at.”

Outside of Reaves, the Lakers will have to make some other key decisions as they gear up for what they hope will be a successful season. Some other players the Lakers have to reach conclusions on are D’Angelo Russell, Hachimura, Lonnie Walker IV and Malik Beasley (team option).

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