Lakers doubling down on how they value Austin Reaves in trade negotiations

The Los Angeles Lakers have made it clear how important Austin Reaves is to them. Recent developments double down on how they view him in trade negotiations.
Los Angeles Lakers v New Orleans Pelicans - Play-In Tournament
Los Angeles Lakers v New Orleans Pelicans - Play-In Tournament / Jonathan Bachman/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Lakers have found the proverbial diamond in the rough in shooting guard Austin Reaves. Undrafted in 2021 despite earning First Team All-Big 12 honors, Reaves has emerged as the arguable third-best player on the Lakers over the past two seasons.

As a critical offseason arrives and trade rumors swirl, general manager Rob Pelinka is doubling down on how he values Reaves regarding a potential trade.

Reaves, 26, has appeared in 146 games for the Lakers over the past two seasons, starting 79. He's coming off of a career year in 2023-24 in which he rewarded Los Angeles' faith by setting career-best marks in virtually every statistical category—thus strengthening Pelinka's resolve.

According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, the Lakers continue to be unwilling to include Reaves in trade negotiations, even if the return would be a player the caliber of Dejounte Murray.

"Murray, meanwhile, was a player that the Lakers could have had at the February trade deadline if they’d been willing to put Reaves into the deal. He’s a possibility now, as well, but league sources say the Lakers’ stance on Reaves remains the same."

This will inevitably result in a divisive response, but the Lakers clearly view Reaves as a building block for the current and future eras of the franchise.

Lakers guard Austin Reaves borders on untouchable

Amick's information is in line with a series of rumors that have surfaced in recent weeks. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, for instance, reported that Reaves is viewed as a member of the Lakers' young core. Jovan Buha of The Athletic relayed that Los Angeles would only trade the 26-year-old for an All-NBA level talent.

It's also worth noting that recently hired Lakers head coach JJ Redick has made it no secret that he's high on Reaves as a player.

It's easy to see why Redick, Pelinka, and the Lakers believe Reaves can be an essential piece of the puzzle. This past season, the former Oklahoma Sooners star averaged 15.9 points, 5.5 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.9 three-point field goals made per game.

It was a strong follow-up to the 2023 NBA Playoffs, when he put up 16.9 points and 4.6 assists per game on .464/.443/.895 shooting as the Lakers made a run to the Western Conference Finals.

Parting with Reaves to bring in Murray is admittedly intriguing. Murray is a former All-Star and All-Defense honoree who has thrived with multiple organizations. He also played at a superstar level when Trae Young was injured last season.

In the 28 games that Murray played without Young, he averaged 25.1 points, 9.1 assists, 5.8 rebounds, 1.8 steals, and 3.3 three-point field goals made per game.

The Lakers, however, seem more focused on pairing Murray with Reaves in what would undoubtedly rank among the top backcourts in the NBA. It would fit Redick's rumored vision for the offense, which includes the utilization of multiple ball-handlers and playmakers.

It's possible that the Lakers won't be able to acquire Murray without trading Reaves, but setting boundaries on what a team is willing to give up isn't an inherently bad thing.

It actually proves that Los Angeles is willing to remain patient as it builds out its roster in 2024-25—a welcome departure from past desperation.