The Los Angeles Lakers will be staring at a familiar situation this offseason when Austin Reaves hits free agency this summer.
The second-year guard has become a fixture in the Lakers’ rotation, though he has missed the past few weeks due to a hamstring injury. Regardless, it’s clear Los Angeles would be wise to invest in Reaves, though he’ll likely command a double-digit salary once he is eligible.
Reaves’ free agency might trigger some anxiousness in fans as the Lakers have previously made errors involving players they could keep if they wanted to. Like Reaves, Alex Caruso was a valuable contributor for the team but they decided he was too expensive. Caruso wound up going to the Chicago Bulls on a four-year, $36 million deal, a contract that Reaves is expected to surpass.
Reaves and Caruso are often compared to each other by Lakers fans, but the sophomore set the record straight about how far the similarities go, via Michael Scotto of HoopsHype:
“Totally different players, but we’re guys that played on the Lakers, and we’re white. We don’t really look athletic. He’s athletic, but I’m not that athletic. I can see why people do it, but we’re two totally different players.”
Aside from their skin color and perceived lack of athleticism, both Caruso and Reaves were undrafted players that L.A. managed to grow and develop through the G League and the parent team. The results speak for themselves as the guards are key pieces for their respective teams and have become valuable role players at the NBA level.
While Caruso is strictly known for his defense, Reaves has a more versatile skillset on offense where he can be a secondary playmaker and a spot-up shooter. That kind of player is invaluable next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis as the two stars will always dominate touches when they play, forcing players like Reaves to be useful in other ways.
Hopefully Los Angeles has learned its lesson and will pay Reaves what he rightfully is worth when the time comes. Continuity on the roster has been lacking the past several seasons, but keeping Reaves would be a good first step in rectifying that issue.
Austin Reaves could suit up against New Orleans Pelicans
The training staff has been taking a conservative approach when it comes to Reaves’ hamstring injury. However, it seems like a return is in the cards as Darvin Ham said he could possibly suit up on Saturday against the New Orleans Pelicans.
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