The Lakers are going to have a number of decisions to make in the upcoming offseason with Austin Reaves likely near or at the top of their priority list. Aside from LeBron James and Anthony Davis — and even including them at times — no Laker shined brighter than Austin Reaves.
Over 16 postseason games, Reaves averaged 16.9 points, 4.6 assists and 4.4 rebounds while shooting 44.3% from the 3-point line. He proved to be a player that can be relied upon in big moments and one that can win you playoff games.
Reaves is set for restricted free agency this summer and an interesting situation. The Lakers can only offer him a deal in the range of four years and $50 million. However, he can sign an offer sheet for much more from an opposing team. The Lakers can, and intend to, match that contract, but someone has to be the team to offer it.
Enter one potential option in the Houston Rockets. On Tuesday, Kelly Iko of The Athletic mentioned Reaves, along with half the pool of available free agents, as player the franchise would have interest in this off-season.
Former franchise player and current 76ers guard James Harden is the top target for Houston in free agency, according to league sources, representing the veteran leadership and elite point guard needed to establish structure and offensive cohesion. Outside of Harden, other high-ranking targets for Houston include Brook Lopez, Dillon Brooks and restricted free agents Cam Johnson and Austin Reaves, league sources said. They also said acquiring a veteran point guard is Houston’s primary objective, meaning even if a move for Harden didn’t materialize, names like Mike Conley, Jordan Clarkson, Donte DiVincenzo and even former Rockets player Chris Paul could be considered should they become available.
Honestly, it’s a great strategy to simply express interest in every free agent, especially when you’re a team as bad as the Rockets were last season. When you have won 59 games as a franchise across the last three seasons, you probably should be expressing interest in signing about 59 free agents.
It likely shouldn’t be too much of an issue to get a team to sign Reaves to a “poison pill” contract, as it will hamstring the Lakers in the long term in years three and four of the deal. It’s just a matter of actually having a team do it.
Based on every bit of the reporting, there is no way Reaves won’t be a Laker next season. This is simply a matter of finding the team to offer him the deal...and getting a chance to laugh at the Rockets.
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