The Los Angeles Lakers have started to fill out the 2023-24 roster with an assortment of free-agent moves early on in the NBA free-agency process. While no stars have come to LA, Rob Pelinka has done a great job of building out a talented roster for next season.
There is one big storyline that still has not been addressed by the purple and gold: Austin Reaves’ restricted free agency. Amid all the spending from day one of free agency, no team offered Reaves a large offer sheet to force the Lakers to match. LA is reportedly a lock to retain Reaves but any other team could hurt the Lakers’ books by offering him a massive offer sheet just to make LA match.
There is only one team that can offer Reaves the max offer sheet to put the Lakers into a predicament: the San Antonio Spurs. On paper, this would be a smart thing for San Antonio to do to their Western Conference rivals.
However, the Spurs might be tied up in other business as Damian Lillard has requested a trade from the Portland Trail Blazers. While Miami appears to be the front-runner for a trade, Lillard does not have the control of a no-trade clause and the Spurs have at least entered the conversation.
Damian Lillard’s trade request may help the Lakers bring back Austin Reaves for cheaper
Nothing is guaranteed but the Spurs at least have a seat at the table when it comes to Lillard and that might keep the team from offering Reaves a massive offer sheet just to hurt the Lakers. Because if LA doesn’t match, that would take San Antonio off the table completely for Lillard.
Even if San Antonio does not ultimately get Lillard, the Spurs being in the conversation could prolong the conversation and force Reaves and his representatives to simply take the most that the Lakers can offer. If so, LA will avoid having to pay Reaves over $30 million in years three and four of his deal.
The cap hits for the upcoming season are going to be similar regardless so it does not change what LA will be able to do for next year’s team. But it will keep future flexibility open, which is also a good thing.
Plus, it will open the door for Reaves to be one of the best-valued contract in the league if he is making $15 million in three years as a player who deserves to make $25-28 million. This could be possible thanks to Dame.