Sources: Lakers Drafted Jalen Hood-Schifino As Potential Austin Reaves Replacement
Austin Reaves, Lakers
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

With the 17th pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers selected combo guard Jalen Hood-Schifino out of Indiana University.

Some people were surprised to see the Lakers draft a guard considering how guard-heavy the roster already is. Although both Austin Reaves and D’Angelo Russell are free agents, there has been reported mutual interest in L.A. retaining both along with Dennis Schroder as well.

It remains to be seen how free agency will play out in the coming days, but according to league sources, the Lakers’ two top targets in the 2023 NBA Draft were Hood-Schifino and Kobe Bufkin, another guard who was selected 15th overall by the Atlanta Hawks just two picks before L.A.

The reason the Lakers were so high on both guards is they saw them as potential replacements for Reaves should an offer sheet price them out of bringing the restricted free agent back, league sources tell Lakers Nation.

As Reaves get set to hit restricted free agency for the first time, the 25-year-old should have no shortage of suitors after his breakout 2022-23 regular and postseason. During the Lakers’ Western Conference Finals run, Reaves averaged 16.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.6 assists while shooting 46.4% from the field, 44.3% from 3-point range and 89.5% from the free throw line.

With the start of free agency on the horizon, Reaves has already drawn reported interest from rebuilding teams like the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs.

Because the Lakers only signed Reaves to a two-year contract before his rookie season, they only have Early Bird rights on him rather than Full Bird rights. With that being the case, the Lakers can only offer Reaves a maximum of four years and $51 million in free agency.

Reaves is a restricted free agent though, which means the Lakers have the ability to match any offer sheet he signs with another team.

Reaves falls under a strange loophole in the league’s collective bargaining agreement nicknamed the “Arenas” provision. Other teams are limited in the salary they can offer Reaves in the first two years of his new contract, although they can offer him the max in the third and four years which would come out to around four years and $98 million told, better known as a poison pill contract.

While Reaves has made it clear that he’d like to stay with the Lakers, he has also been open about making as much money as possible in free agency considering he earned the league minimum in his first two seasons.

For that to happen then Reaves will need to secure an offer sheet from the Rockets, Spurs or another team with cap space. If he does get a max offer though then the Lakers will need to make a decision on whether they want to match it, which could get tricky considering how many other free agents they need to pay and the nature of the new CBA. For those reasons, the Lakers were targeting guards with the 17th pick and may have drafted Reaves’ potential replacement in Hood-Schifino.

Pelinka excited about pairing of Reaves & Hood-Schifino

Speaking with the media after the draft, Rob Pelinka stated that he believes Reaves and Hood-Schifino complement each other well and is excited to see that pairing in the Lakers’ backcourt.

While Pelinka is saying that publicly though, behind the scenes the Lakers may be bracing for the loss of Reaves in free agency.

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