Amidst a season with so much turmoil and disappointment, Austin Reaves shined as one of the Lakers’ scarce silver linings. There existed some confusion on the status of Reaves’ contract with the belief being he had a team option for the 2022-23 season, one that it was reported by Jovan Buha of The Athletic the team would pick up.
However, as noted by multiple reporters on Wednesday, Reaves contract for next season is actually non-guaranteed with no options as he is listed on the main roster for next season and figures to be part of the team’s plans moving forward.
Update: Austin Reaves didn’t have a team option to be picked up. He’s on the official roster for next season. His contract is currently non-guaranteed. https://t.co/sDp0Dw6L82— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) June 29, 2022
Non-guaranteed salary, not an option. Admittedly I personally erred in conflating the two. But the plan is obviously for Austin to be on next year’s roster. https://t.co/cMiRRFfANC— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) June 29, 2022
Despite being an undrafted rookie, Reaves worked his way up from a two-way contract to a guaranteed NBA deal before the season even started last fall. As the season progressed, Reaves’ role increased until he became a consistent member of the Lakers’ rotation, culminating in a historic triple-double.
On the year as a whole, Reaves averaged 7.3 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 23.2 minutes per game across 61 games. He shot 45.9% from the field and 31.7% from the 3-point line.
His play was strong enough to earn him some votes for the All-Rookie teams, an impressive feat for an undrafted player. For the Lakers, he’s more than earned a spot as a role player moving forward, even if an ideal 2022-23 roster is vastly improved from last year’s.
Reaves’ ability to enhance the superpowers of his star teammates makes him a particularly valuable player to this Lakers team still headlined by LeBron James and Anthony Davis. What makes him most valuable, though, is the mere $1.5 million he’ll make this upcoming season, a paltry sum in comparison to his overall level of production.
This offseason, Reaves vowed to work on improving his 3-point shot, which was one of his few weaknesses, especially as the season went on. In his first 17 games played, Reaves shot 39.0% from behind the arc. However, his accuracy tailed off over his next 25 games, making just 23.8% of his long range attempts during that stretch. He ended the year on a relative upswing, making 34.9% of his threes in his final 19 games.
If Austin Reaves can solidify a reputation as a knockdown shooter in addition to his already elite glue guy contributions, he could become a huge part of what the Lakers do this season.