The Lakers have found themselves in a familiar position in many regards when it comes to Austin Reaves. In one regard, he’s joined a growing list of wins for the scouting department this season as he continues to blossom.
At the same time, he’s also the latest to put the Lakers in a bind financially when it comes to his impending free agency. While it’s important to note that Reaves is a restricted free agent, and it’ll be entirely the Lakers’ decision if he doesn’t return, his next contract could be quite the commitment.
It’s the catch-22 of Reaves having success this season is that it’s only making him more expensive to keep around. Recently appearing on FanDuel TV, Shams Charania of The Athletic and former NBA player/recruiter Chandler Parsons discussed just how much money Reaves could be set to make this summer.
Shams Charania: ”When you look into free agency this summer, the maximum that the Lakers can offer him is four years and $50 million due to his restricted free agency status. That’s increasingly looking like his marketplace, at least. So when you think about other teams, they can go higher than that. They can give him a poison pill offer shit — which Chandler knows a lot about — but the Lakers can match that, because he is a restricted free agent... You have to give credit to the Lakers. Joey Buss, Jesse Buss, Nick Mazzella, their executives, their scouting department that went out and got him, and you’re starting to see a trend here: Austin Reaves, Alex Caruso, Talen Horton-Tucker, guys that either went undrafted or late somewhere in the second round that end up playing a lot better than expected and end up cashing out in just two seasons. So Austin Reaves is going to go from undrafted, two-way, nonguaranteed contract, to potentially four years and $50 million this summer.”
Chandler Parsons: ”I think he gets more, Shams. I don’t think the Lakers are going to be able to hold him for $50 million. I think he’s shown he’s a starting point guard, he’s a great bench player, and a team that is actually good and a contender can use someone like Austin Reaves as that steady backup point guard that can fill in the starting role and help a contending team. So I look for him to get one of those restricted, tough contracts that the Lakers are either forced to match or not match, and I don’t think they can afford him.”
Michelle Beadle: ”He would leave his dream team?”
Chandler Parsons: ”Hit him with that Chandler Parsons contract, yeah, make it hard on the Lakers and I think he is out.”
All indications have been that Reaves and the Lakers are both interested in coming to an agreement on a deal this summer. The latest of that came via Jovan Buha, also of The Athletic, when talking about Reaves’ recent strong showing against the Magic.
Reaves’ surge is setting him up for a fascinating offseason. He will be a restricted free agent this summer, and will undoubtedly have multiple suitors looking to pry him from the Lakers — especially after stat lines like Sunday’s. Both the Lakers and Reaves’ camp have interest in Reaves re-signing in Los Angeles, according to multiple league sources who were granted anonymity so that they coud speak freely. The max the Lakers can offer Reaves is a four-year, $50.8 million contract if they chose to use his Early Bird Rights, but they also have the power to match any contract he signs with another team.
If there are any concerns about whether he’ll remain a Laker, this isn’t the first time the team has navigated these waters and they retained the player each time. When each of Jordan Clarkson and Talen Horton-Tucker entered restricted free agency in this regard, both stayed as Lakers. Caruso’s situation was a bit different as he was re-signed from a two-way contract, then eventually left in unrestricted free agency.
Again, though, all indications are that the Lakers want Reaves and this team to return next season. He’s been an important part of keeping them afloat without LeBron James. It’s perfectly timed for Reaves to cash in on what will certainly be a big payday this summer.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.