While it was a big talking point at the start of the playoffs, what faded into the background was the fact that Austin Reaves was playing in his first postseason. There was hardly a dip of form during the series against the Grizzlies, and Reaves was still making plays for the Lakers all the way through the Game 6 beatdown.
Reaves finished the series averaging 16.5 points, 5 assists and 5.3 rebounds while shooting 44.7% from the field and 34.4% from the 3-point line. He had a pair of 20-point games and tallied 20 assists in the final three games of the series.
It’s been the latest chapter of the growing book of Reaves’ NBA career, as he continues achieving more and more inside the first two years with the Lakers. The looming question, though, continues to be his impending free agency.
The Lakers are going to control whether he returns or not, but they may not be able to control what dollar amount he’ll be making depending on how negotiations go. The good news, on top of Reaves wanting to return, is that the Lakers seem interested in ensuring he does.
In a recent profile on Reaves by Dave McMenamin of ESPN, Lakers president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka spoke about the team’s desire to keep Reaves with the team moving forward.
Said Pelinka: “There’s a mutual desire. ... Those are the type of guys you want in your program - that it’s team first, it’s sacrifice everything to win a game, competition above individual stats. That’s kind of what the DNA — especially for our young guys — that we wanted to represent. And he’s an example of that.”
Throughout the playoffs, Reaves has proven his willingness to both sacrifice and do what’s needed to win games. He’s a malleable piece that can do many different things for the Lakers.
Need him to step up and run pick and roll to close a game? He did that. Need him to take a backseat and be a screen setter in double drag sets? He did that. Need him to spend the whole series chasing around Desmond Bane? He did that.
The Lakers need players like him and they would be incredibly foolish to let one just walk away when they have full control of him. I mean, could you imagine the Lakers letting a very productive role player walk because they got cheap?
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