In two years of being in the NBA, Austin Reaves has become a cultivating fan-favorite in the Los Angeles Lakers organization and fan base. Being an undrafted player out of Oklahoma, flashes were shown during the tail-end of the 2021-22 season, especially ending that year with a 31-point triple-double.
Reaves saw more action in his second season with his minutes jumping from 23.2 to 28.8 as well as increasing his point total from 7.3 to 13 and 3-point percentage from 31% to 40%. In a short amount of time, Reaves established himself as a rotational player and now he will be a starter heading into next season.
As a restricted free agent this offseason, Reaves sign a four-year, $56 million Early Bird maximum contract to stay with the Lakers. However, one of the teams with cap space this offseason, the San Antonio Spurs, reportedly contemplated an offer sheet for Reaves but ultimately never pulled the trigger, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN:
“I think the Reaves contract has a chance to be one of the best contracts in the league from a team perspective. And the Lakers got very, very lucky that nobody made them pay through the nose. And I know San Antonio was going back and forth on it and just for whatever reason didn’t do it, and that’s a steal.”
This came as a bit of a surpire as leading up to free agency, Reaves was expected to have a competitive market and even offer sheets going up to $100 million. The Lakers could only offer $56 million themselves but had the ability to match any offer sheet he signed with another team.
The Lakers letting it be known that they would match any offer sheet definitely could have been a factor into a team like the Spurs not wanting to make and offer and tie up cap space knowing L.A. would ultimately match their offer.
Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, in retrospect, brought back Reaves on a bargain which will help with cap flexibility moving forward. In a market where Houston Rockets forward Dillion Brooks received a four-year, $80 million contract and Cleveland Cavaliers forward Max Strus signed a four-year, $63 million contract, Reaves certainly would have gotten more on the open market if he was an unrestricted free agent.
Mo Bamba to sign one-year contract with 76ers
As the Lakers are still rumored to be looking for one more big man in the free agency market, Mo Bamba, who was acquired at the trade deadline for Patrick Beverley, has reached an agreement with the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Lakers did not guarantee Bamba’s contract for the 2023-24 season and there were rumors of him potentially returning on a new deal, although that did not materialize. The center market now becomes thinner, further questioning who is potentially being targeted by L.A.
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