Second-year guard Austin Reaves has been a pleasant surprise for the Los Angeles Lakers this season, showcasing his potential as a valuable role player in the NBA. With his current contract expiring, the question now arises: Can the Lakers re-sign Reaves and secure his talents for the future?
After his breakout game against the Orlando Magic, where he scored a career-high 35 points, including 10 straight in the clutch. The Lakers organization and fans alike have been buzzing about the prospect of keeping Reaves on the team long-term. However, re-signing Reaves will depend on several factors, including the team’s salary cap situation and competing offers from other franchises.
Austin Reaves’ Rookie Contract and Upcoming Free Agency
Reaves will be a restricted free agent at the end of the 2022-23 season, giving the Lakers an advantage in retaining him. This is because they will have the right of first refusal, meaning that if another team offers Reaves a contract, the Lakers can choose to match the offer and keep him on their roster. The max the Lakers can offer Reaves a four-year, $50.8 million contract, reported by Jovan Buha of The Athletic. The contract is based on the team’s ownership of his bird rights.
However, the Lakers’ ability to offer such a lucrative deal will depend on their cap flexibility and willingness to spend, considering they already have significant money committed to their current star players. The Lakers faced a similar issue with guard Alex Caruso, who ultimately signed with the Chicago Bulls in the 2021 offseason after the Lakers could not match their offer due to salary cap constraints and wanting to go a different direction.
Reaves’s Contract is not the Average Rookie Deal
Reaves’s contract is not the average rookie deal. He was originally signed as a two-way player after going undrafted and quickly earned a promotion to the standard roster. As a result, this unique situation has provided the Lakers with a cost-effective way to evaluate Reaves’ talent and potential before making any long-term commitment. He is also turning 25, which is older than most at this point in their NBA careers. This potentially makes his upcoming contract more significant in terms of securing his prime playing years.
Reaves may seek a bigger contract, given his age and impressive performance thus far. This may attract interest from other teams willing to invest in his potential. If other teams offer him a more lucrative contract, the Lakers may face stiff competition to retain him. Ultimately, the Lakers’ ability to re-sign Austin Reaves will depend on their salary cap management and commitment to prioritizing his development as a key component of their long-term success strategy.
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