The Lakers may have to give Austin Reaves a Tyler Johnson-style contract
Tyler Johnson is the best example of a player getting a payday as a restricted free agent only for his team to bring him back using the Gilbert Arenas Provision. Back in 2016, Johnson agreed to a four-year, $50 million contract with the Brooklyn Nets that the Miami Heat decided to match. That deal paid Johnson less than $6 million in years one and two but ballooned to $19.2 million in years three and four.
A $50 million contract may not seem too bad but it would be worth far more in today’s NBA now that the MLE is worth more. If another team signed Reaves to this exact type of deal with the same percentage increase, it would pay him $11.3 million in year one, $11.9 million in year two and would jump to the max in year three and four.
If another team likes Reaves as much as the Nets liked Johnson back in 2016 then they could sign him to a four-year, $98.6 million contract. As long as that team has the cap space to absorb it, they can take the average cap hit of the four years. So while Reaves is getting paid more at the end of the contract, the cap hit for all four seasons would be roughly $24.65 million.
The Lakers do not have the salary-cap space to absorb a $24.65 million hit after they bring in other impending free agents. Thus, they would have to take the year-by-year cap hit for Reaves. What does this mean?
This means that next season his cap hit will be $11.4, the following season it will be $11.9, then Reaves will balloon to a max cap hit in year three and four. Instead of paying him like a role player all four years, the Lakers would be paying him like a max player in years three and four.
Is that worth it if Reaves gets that kind of offer? That is for the Los Angeles Lakers to decide.