Should Lakers fans fear the restricted free agency of Reaves and Rui?

Rui Hachimura and Austin Reaves, Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)
Rui Hachimura and Austin Reaves, Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images) /

Heading into the postseason, Los Angeles Lakers fans knew what to expect from LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The dynamic duo has been excellent per usual thus far through two rounds. And while D’Angelo Russell may be classified as the third fiddle in the roster hierarchy, there has been a secondary duo that has been instrumental to the success of this team in the playoffs.

Many did not know what to expect from Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura in their first postseason as Lakers, but they have each strongly exceeded expectations. Reaves has been the third most consistent player night in and night out, and the team would not be at this stage were it not for HIM.

Rui Hachimura came out of the gates quickly with a dominant Game 1 in the opening round against Memphis. While he has not turned in any similar monstrous performances, he has provided Darvin Ham with steady minutes across all three frontcourt positions on both ends of the floor.

Regardless of the outcome of the remainder of the playoffs, these two young gentlemen are assuredly getting paid this offseason. But after their surprising contributions in the most important part of the season, will the Lakers be able to retain each of them given their salary cap situation?

Should Lakers fans be worried about Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura leaving?

Reaves would seem to be the higher priority. He turns just 25 at the end of this month and has displayed significant progress across two seasons in LA. A strong argument could be made that Austin Reaves is a future NBA All-Star, and that leap could easily come as soon as next season.

The Lakers can offer him up to 4 years and roughly $50 million given his CBA contract stipulations (second contract since entering the league). Obviously, the Lakers are infatuated with the idea of bringing him back and will certainly throw an attractive offer at Reaves and his agent. Other teams will definitely swoop in with heftier offers, but those teams with the cap space to do so are primarily rebuilding (Rockets, Spurs, Jazz, Magic, Hornets, Thunder, Pistons, Pacers).

Reaves may be young enough to fit into the future plans of those rebuilding teams, but he gives off the type of wise vibes that hint at a priority on winning over funds. He also gives off the type of vibes of a player that truly loves his current situation.

He is adored by his teammates, coaches, and the entire Laker fanbase. There is a legitimate vision of him developing into a Laker legend, and that is one that could very rationally come to fruition if all of the pieces fit together correctly. Expect a rebuilding team to throw a bag at Reaves this summer, but Pelinka and co have shown enough competency in recent memory to thwart off any anxiety tied to losing AR-15 in free agency.

Unfortunately, fans should be a bit more worried about the potential of losing Rui Hachimura this summer. Just like Reaves, Rui is young enough (25) to fit into the rebuilding plans of each of those previously mentioned teams.

Unlike Reaves, those teams could surely utilize the services of the 6’8″ wing/big Hachimura. The Pacers and Thunder stand out as potential suitors that look like great fits for Rui on paper. Slotting him next to either Myles Turner in Indiana or Chet Holmgren in OKC could be interesting.

Anticipate one of those younger teams to offer Rui a solid contract in the range of $15-20 million per season. Whether or not LA elects to match an offer in that range remains unclear, but it goes without saying that everyone in Laker Land would love to have him back. In this case, a good bit of advice would be to prepare for the worst but hope for the best.

In the event the front office is forced to choose between paying one or the other, Reaves should almost certainly be the choice. That is a bridge that we will cross when we get to it in the near future. For now, let us appreciate the growth of these two baby Lakers in the present. If there is one thing that recent history tells us, it is that Lakers whose professional careers are born in Los Angeles do not tend to grow up in La La Land.

For now, here is to watching these two young hoopers grow up right before our eyes. For later, he is to hoping we can continue to watch them sprout as members of the Purple and Gold.

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