Austin Reaves has won over Los Angeles Lakers fans’ hearts in only two seasons with the team. Reaves is the latest example of a diamond in the rough that the Lakers’ scouting department has found as he has far overperformed any expectations placed on him.
The undrafted guard put together arguably the best performance of his young career on Sunday against the Orlando Magic. In the Lakers’ win, Reaves dropped 35 points with six boards and six assists while scoring LA’s last 10 points of the game.
While Reaves has all the makings of being a Laker for life, the team is already going to have to make a decision on his future his summer. Reaves is a restricted free agent and this front office has let promising fan favorites walk away in the past (looking at you, Alex Caruso).
The Lakers’ potential price tag for Reaves may make fans worry as well. NBA insider Shams Charania predicts that Reaves’ market will be in the four-year, $50 million range — which is the maximum that the Lakers can offer him this summer.
That is a pretty penny for a player that just went undrafted two years ago but there is no question that almost every Lakers fan would pay that price to keep Reaves in LA. But will the Lakers? Do fans have to worry about Reaves’ potential future and him leaving Los Angeles?
There is a chance that Austin Reaves leaves the Lakers this summer.
If we were not scarred from the Alex Caruso contract from two summers ago then it would be easier to say that Austin Reaves will return to Los Angeles. However, this ownership group has made penny-pinching decisions in the past and that won’t stop them from making them again.
Plus, there is also the risk that Reaves can get offers from other teams that are higher what the Lakers can offer him. As Shams speculates in the video above, other teams might be willing to pay more than the $12.5 million he would be making on a four-year, $50 million contract. If that is the case, the Lakers may simply get outbid and not have anything to do about it.
The one thing working in LA’s favor is the fact that Reaves grew up a Lakers fan and has obvious love for this franchise. There is absolutely a world in which he takes a pay cut (while still making a pretty penny) to stay on the team he idolized.
But the front office should not be taking advantage of that fact. They cannot try to get away with a deal way under market value just because they know Reaves loves it in LA. That is how you get the Caruso situation all over again, with Reaves potentially departing.
It seems like such an easy decision for the team to make this offseason: just bring back Austin Reaves. However, at this price, it is possible that he ends up on a new team.