Ranking Lakers free agents by likelihood to return next season

The Los Angeles Lakers have 10 players entering free agency in 2024. Who is most likely to be re-signed and who might be on their way out this summer?
Los Angeles Lakers v New Orleans Pelicans - Play-In Tournament
Los Angeles Lakers v New Orleans Pelicans - Play-In Tournament / Jonathan Bachman/GettyImages
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6. Jaxson Hayes, Player Option

The Los Angeles Lakers would likely be happy to see Jaxson Hayes accept his player option. He would be owed just $2,463,946 for the 2024-25 regular season, which would be a bargain price for just about anyone, let alone a quality contributor.

In saying that, Los Angeles point guard D'Angelo Russell, who also has a player option, told Corey Hansford of Lakers Nation that he expects Hayes to get paid this coming summer.

“He’s gonna make a lot of money this summer, being on this main stage all these nights. Teams get to see him dominate his minutes. He’s been playing behind AD all season but whenever he gets just a little bit of time, he dominates. So kudos to him."

That doesn't necessarily mean it will happen, but Hayes did earn rave reviews for the way he stepped up when backup center Christian Wood went down with an injury.

In the eight games that Hayes saw at least 20 minutes of playing time, he averaged 11.8 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.9 steals, and 1.0 block in 27.5 minutes per game. That includes his performance late in the season, when he stepped in for the injured Wood and dropped 19 points, 10 rebounds, and five steals against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Based on his youth, upside, athleticism, and the way he closed out the 2023-24 season, it's certainly plausible that a team will offer him a multi-year deal.

In saying that, the Lakers may yet receive a commitment from Hayes for another season. He'd likely find playing time on a team that could trade a number of its key assets in the pursuit of a co-star in their prime for Anthony Davis and LeBron James.

That could ultimately result in Hayes earning an even bigger contract in 2025 as his work to become an effective complementary player continues to pay off.