Coming into the free agency period, the Los Angeles Lakers had a clear path toward retaining most of their roster and improving on the margins.
The biggest priority for the Lakers, though, was retaining Austin Reaves, who was coming off a career-year where he looked like the team’s third-best player. As a restricted free agent, Reaves could’ve potentially signed a massive deal in free agency from somewhere else and made the decision to keep him harder for Los Angeles.
Thankfully, that scenario didn’t play out and the Lakers came to terms with Reaves on a four-year, $56 million contract. The amount is the most the Lakers could’ve offered him and is one of the summer’s biggest bargain deals considering the other contracts that were reportedly signed around the league.
Heading into his third year, expectations are a lot bigger this time around as L.A. will be counting on him to assume a bigger role. In fact, the coaching staff is rumored to be planning to have more of the offense go through Reaves according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic:
The Lakers plan on running more of their offense through Reaves next season, unlocking the point guard skills he’s flashed through his first two years in the league, according to team sources not authorized to speak publicly.
In college, Reaves was an excellent on-ball scorer and playmaker and he got the chance to showcase that more this past season when LeBron James went down to injury. The former undrafted guard looked comfortable running actions all over the floor and had a knack for either getting to his spots to score or finding teammates for better looks.
With James presumably coming back for Year 21, the organization appears to want to limit his reps in order to keep him as fresh as possible for the playoffs. Reaves is more than capable of assuming more of the offensive load, so it will be interesting to see how much of the ballhandling responsibilities go his way when the new season begins.
LeBron James reacts to Lakers’ free agency moves on Instagram
Although James hinted about retirement, all signs point to him returning to the Lakers for at least one more season. James has yet officially announced he’s coming back, but he has been active on social media regarding free agency.
After news broke of the free agents Los Angeles reportedly signed, James posted on his Instagram stories a photo of each player which could be taken as a sign of his approval.
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