The Los Angeles Lakers announced that they extended qualifying offers to Rui Hachimura and Austin Reaves on Tuesday, making both players restricted free agents ahead of the opening of NBA free agency on Friday.
Unlike unrestricted free agents, teams can match any offer to their own restricted free agents. Under the new collective bargaining agreement, teams now have just 24 hours to do so. Players can also simply accept the qualifying offer — for Reaves, it’s worth $2.2 million, while Hachimura’s is worth $7.7 million — and play out the year on the one-year deal to hit unrestricted free agency next summer, but that almost never happens (Greg Monroe with the Detroit Pistons is a rare example).
Considering that both Reaves and Hachimura are expected to get upwards of eight figures annually, we can (probably) safely rule that scenario out.
Extending qualifying offers to both players is just the latest indication that the Lakers plan to keep them. The most the Lakers can offer Reaves outright is a four-year, $53 million contract, but they can match up to the four years and approximately $98 million max another team can tender him. Other teams can offer Hachimura a maximum of four years as well, although his annual salary can start at $33 million (it is unlikely the bidding will get that high).
From the Lakers’ perspective, doing this also has the benefit of adding another hurdle for teams looking to sign Hachimura or Reaves, as those organizations may not want to tie up their cap space for 24 hours with a contract the Lakers are likely to match anyway.
In short, expect both players to likely be back in purple and gold next season, with this just being the first step towards that outcome.
This breaking news story may be updated with more information as it develops. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.