The Los Angeles Lakers had until Jan. 10 to guarantee the contracts of Austin Reaves and Wenyen Gabriel for the rest of the season, but the team is taking no chances with a fax machine malfunction and getting that work done early.
According to Dave McMenamin and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the team is locking in those deals for the season on Friday.
Reporting with @mcten: As expected, the Lakers are guaranteeing the contracts of Austin Reaves and Wenyen Gabriel for the rest of the season.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 6, 2023
This is not surprising to anyone paying even passing attention to the Lakers this season, as both Reaves and Gabriel have become key role players for the team off the bench. However, it is likely a small weight lifted of the two players’ shoulders on a human level, as now they can be certain that the team does not plan to waive them to free up a roster spot to look at more 10-day players or add a veteran who gets cut in the days to come.
Again, with Reaves second in total minutes for the team this season (1,039) behind only LeBron James (1,044), and Gabriel sitting 10th on that list (418), the Lakers had made it clear through their actions that they didn’t plan to let go of these guys. They’ve earned that commitment with their play, too, as Reaves is first on the team in total plus-minus (+71), and Gabriel is fourth (+10), trailing only Reaves, James and Anthony Davis.
Considering that Reaves is the second-cheapest player on the team (making $1.6 million) and Gabriel is 7th ($1.8 million), the Lakers are unlikely to get better bang for their buck this year than they will by keeping those two around. Now that their presence is essentially a certainty — no matter how expected that conclusion ultimately was — the front office can completely focus on where else they can add to this roster.
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