Lakers Promising Guard Dubbed Top Trade Chip Amid Trade Rumors

Austin Reaves

Getty Images LeBron James and Austin Reaves of the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Los Angeles Lakers seem destined to make a trade of some sort as they look to build a championship-worthy roster and rising wing Austin Reaves has been mentioned as one of the team’s top assets as they evaluate potential deals.

Reaves was an undrafted free agent last season but was a bright spot during a miserable year for the Lakers. He carved out a role and played 23.2 minutes per game last season for LA, averaging 7.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, shooting at a 45.9% clip on his shot attempts. Reaves is by no means a sniper from deep but he shot better than 31% on his 3-point attempts.

Considering Reaves small price tag and ability on both sidses of the floor, he’s an asset for the Lakers but one that teams might be interested in as the Lakers try to negotiate trades that can improve the roster. Bleacher Report listed Reaves as one of the Lakers’ top trade chips but also cited that the team would be unlikely to give him up. Per B/R:

To be clear, Reaves almost surely isn’t getting traded. He impressed at both ends as a rookie and quickly became a favorite not just of the fans, but of LeBron James, too. However, given L.A.’s lack of assets, it’s worth including Reaves here, even if he’d probably only exit L.A. as the necessary sweetener in a blockbuster trade.

Kendrick Nunn and the Lakers’ first-round picks in 2027 and 2029 were pointed out as the other top assets for the Lakers.

Austin Reaves Has Drawn Praise From LeBron James

Reaves fell into quite the situation as a rookie, getting to play alongside Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook and LeBron James, who has been particularly impressed with the 24-year-old’s ability to adapt — and he thinks he’s “super-duper cool.”

“Austin can fit in any group,” James said during the preseason. “A guy who plays extremely hard, plays well, doesn’t make mistakes, always in the right place at the right time. He plays extremely hard. His IQ is very high. He fits in any group, and it’s always good to be on the floor with him. I love AR.

“He’s just super-duper cool. He doesn’t do much of anything besides play ball, chill and golf. I will always be a fan of AR for the rest of his career. Hopefully, his career is a lot longer for what I got from my career. If I’m still playing and he’s not playing, there’s a problem. But AR is great, man.”

Reaves played just 16 minutes in the Lakers opener, logging 3 points and an assist.

Lakers Trade Talks Center Around Russell Westbrook

Much of the trade talks surrounding the Lakers have involved Westbrook, who is still trying to carve out his role on the team. The Lakers appeared poised to move him prior to camp but ultimately decided against it.

While Westbrook’s name is still consistently brought up in rumors, the Lakers appear poised to wait it out and see what the fit looks like with everyone healthy. The opener was just the 22nd game the trio of Westbrook, James and Davis had played. together.

“I’m told to expect Rob Pelinka and the Lakers to wait until post-Thanksgiving, 20 games into the season and see what teams may start pivoting, who don’t start off well who decide that they may start to unload players and perhaps get involved in the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes to get down in the lottery,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported.

Having patience could open up some interesting opportunities for the Lakers, but for now, they’ll look to turn things around with Westbrook on the roster.