Los Angeles Lakers guard Austin Reaves enjoyed a breakout postseason at a fortunate time. Reaves averaged 16.9 points and four rebounds and assists apiece per game in the playoffs for the Lakers while shooting 44% from deep and serving as a secondary ball handler next to LeBron James.
All of his key playoff moments came on the brink of a contract year. Reaves is a restricted free agent this summer and can receive offers of up to $100 million from teams around the league. The Lakers reportedly plan on matching any offer for Reaves, however.
The interest in a return is mutual. After a season-ending loss to the Denver Nuggets, Reaves made it clear that L.A. feels like home and that he wants to stay a Laker. General manager Rob Pelinka emphasized his satisfaction with Reaves’ growth last season and his importance to their young core of players.
“There’s certain rules with the CBA and different things where we can’t talk about you know free agency until July. But, I would say this resoundingly clear our intentions are to keep our core of young guys together. And I think we saw incredible growth and achievement by Rui, Austin, I could go down the list, Vando, DLo. We have a lot of great young players and we want to do our best to fit the puzzle together,” Pelinka said. “There’s, as you guys know, there’s a new collective bargaining agreement now that has different components to it and we want to fit the puzzle together in a way that’ll help us compete for championships.
“Austin in particular had an incredible year. I think he defines really what’s at the heart of playing for the Lakers. He’s a selfless team-first guy, he lives in the gym, he loves the big moment, he’s been able to meet the big moment. I think he’s a guy that regardless of what his deal is, I don’t think it’s going to change him as a person and we’ll hang our hat on guys like that. That compete love the game, love their teammates. I think we’re proud to have him as part of this franchise and again, without talking about specific players, we’ll do our best to keep this group intact and growing and getting better each year.”
Bringing Reaves back is likely atop the list of priorities for the Lakers this offseason. He’s developed a clear chemistry with LeBron and expressed a hunger to return to the postseason. Pelinka also mentioned the list of boxes Reaves checks for the Lakers, hinting at him re-signing with L.A. as a matter of when, not if.
There are many suitors for the guard, however. The Houston Rockets reportedly view Reaves as a ‘high-priority target’ and the San Antonio Spurs are also seen as a dark horse to sign the young guard. Both teams have cap space to offer Reaves a deal as high as $100 million across four years.
It’s safe to say that the Lakers understand the importance of retaining Reaves though and all signs point to him returning to the purple and gold next season and beyond.
Rob Pelinka & Darvin Ham emphasize work for next season begins now
The Lakers didn’t reach their goal of winning championship No. 18 this season. Therefore, Pelinka and head coach Darvin Ham said their work for the championship next season begins immediately.
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