Lakers & Austin Reaves Still Have Mutual Interest In Free Agency But Western Conference Executive Believes He’ll Have A Lot Of Suitors
Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

While all of the focus remains on the Los Angeles Lakers’ postseason run, there has to be at least some eyes on the offseason and the moves that will need to be made. Perhaps the biggest question surrounds second-year guard Austin Reaves and whether the Lakers will be able to keep him.

Reaves will be a restricted free agent this summer, which does give the Lakers the upper hand when it comes to retaining him. But that hasn’t always prevented player movement as opposing teams get creative in figuring out ways to pry players away in free agency and Reaves is looking like a very desirable piece this offseason.

In fact, one Western Conference executive told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin that Reaves is an attractive option for basically any team and that someone could look to backload an offer that the Lakers would be unable to match:

There certainly could be outside offers. 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.

This idea, commonly referred to in the past as a “poison-pill” contract, was used a lot in an effort to force teams to not match restricted free agent deals. The number in the last year or two of the deal would be so high that a team just wouldn’t be willing to take that on and the Lakers could struggle to bite that bullet on Reaves if the number is too high.

But, as he has said before, Reaves remains committed to the Lakers and seemingly wants to be here for the foreseeable future:

“I would love to be here my whole career,” Reaves said. “Just the way that the fans treat me, the love they have for me, as an undrafted player, it’s kind of like they raised me type of vibe. … It feels like it’s meant to be. It feels like this all happened for a reason and this is where I should be.”

And likewise, the Lakers and general manager Rob Pelinka want Reaves to remain in purple and gold as he is the exact type of player you want in your franchise:

Said Pelinka: “There’s a mutual desire. … Those are the type of guys you want in your program – that it’s team first, it’s sacrifice everything to win a game, competition above individual stats. That’s kind of what the DNA — especially for our young guys — that we wanted to represent. And he’s an example of that.”

As Pelinka said, Reaves is the kind of young player you want to keep around. He fits into any type of lineup with any team and can do so much on the court along with having the attitude and mindset of always working to improve and never being afraid of the moment.

The Lakers and Reaves both seem to be on the same page so it will simply be a matter of coming together to ensure this partnership keeps going.

Rob Pelinka says freeing up Austin Reaves was a factor in Lakers’ trade deadline moves

There should be no doubt in how the Lakers view Reaves as the young guard forced his way into the starting lineup with his excellent play after the trade deadline. The moves the front office made opened up opportunities for Reaves and that was no accident.

Pelinka said freeing up more minutes and opportunities for Reaves was a factor in the Lakers’ deadline deals and it certainly worked out for everyone involved.

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