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Los Angeles Lakers guard Austin Reaves is scheduled for restricted free agency after this season, but the team reportedly plans to keep him.
When writing about Los Angeles’ acquisition of Rui Hachimura, Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports noted the Lakers would prefer to keep Reaves even though they could clear more than $30 million by renouncing Hachimura and other players.
While keeping players such as Hachimura and Reaves on new contracts could limit the front office’s ability to bring in a max-level player to take the court alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis, there is something to be said about how important role players can be on championship contenders.
Reaves has filled that role well for the Lakers since they brought him aboard as an undrafted player for the 2021-22 campaign.
He appeared in 61 games as a rookie and averaged 7.3 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists while shooting 45.9 percent from the field and 31.7 percent from deep.
The Oklahoma product establishing himself as even a secondary contributor was one of the few bright spots for a Lakers team that didn’t even qualify for the play-in tournament and positioned him to be an even more important part of the team in 2022-23.
He has been just that this season with averages of 10.8 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists while shooting 48.8 percent from the field and 36 percent from three-point range. His emergence as more of an outside shooter in particular has been important because the Lakers struggle from deep as a whole.
Los Angeles clearly still envisions competing in the Western Conference this season despite an uneven 22-25 start given the decision to trade for Hachimura. How Reaves performs during a potential late playoff push could be a key factor in any contract discussions ahead of a deal.
But the Lakers reportedly want to make sure he remains with the team at this point.