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Report: Lakers have softened Austin Reaves free agent market with willingness to match any offer

By showing their cards so publicly in recent weeks and months, the Lakers may have actually helped themselves in retaining Austin Reaves this offseason.

2023 NBA Playoffs - Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

There has been no secret from the Lakers about their intention of matching any contract offer Austin Reaves receives this summer. While the Lakers haven’t and never will come out and explicitly state it, every report has been that the team is not letting him get away.

Being as open as they have been about it may have played in the Lakers' favor, too. According to Dan Woike of the LA Times, that approach has perhaps scared teams away heading into the offseason.

The Lakers’ open stance about matching offers for the two could end up saving the team money, particularly with Reaves. After a terrific postseason debut, teams with cap space don’t have much optimism they’ll be able to pry him free, which means the Lakers’ four-year, $52 million-ish max offer might be the most he gets. People around the league, though, seem to think Reaves is worth more, but the rules prohibit the Lakers from giving it to him unless they’re matching another team’s offer.

If intentional, it’s a really good tactic from the Lakers. By making it very clear that they would be bringing Reaves back, which really isn’t even that tactical of a decision, teams are now considering whether it’s worth tying up their cap space for any amount of time knowing the Lakers aren’t going to allow him to leave. Mix in the fact that he doesn’t even want to leave and there’s a lot of dynamics at play.

And considering the vast difference between what the Lakers can offer, as Woike noted, and the nearly $90 million another team can offer that the Lakers would then match, it’s a big difference that will impact the Lakers significantly in the coming years.

Even still, given all these questions, all it takes is one team to offer that contract and the Lakers would be forced to match it. It’s not really a strategy the Lakers can rely upon in that regard because it could so easily change, but there’s no harm in laying the seeds and hoping it pays off.

Because if they are able to retain Reaves on that 4-year, $52-million deal, man oh man would that be one heck of a favorable deal for the Lakers.

You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.

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