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Los Angeles Lakers’ Austin Reaves: Anybody that says we don’t play the game for money is lying

After missing the playoffs last year, we’ve seen a much different Los Angeles Lakers team experience a second-half surge thanks to contributions from several different playmakers in 2023. One of those changes has come in one of the most unexpected ways, with Austin Reaves developing into an impact player off the bench.

It’s a critical area of growth for a Lakers team mostly tapped out when it comes to young players who have yet to reach their ceiling. Yet, as much as the Lakers benefit from the 24-year-old’s career year this season, his strong play only drives up his price in free agency.

Since Reaves was undrafted, he doesn’t have the typical contract a draft pick enjoys, with multiple seasons guaranteed. Yet, in Reaves’ case, that could work to his advantage as he’s actually set for restricted free agency at the end of this season instead.

It’s a fascinating scenario for the Lakers, who also have other contracts to worry about, such as recently-acquired D’Angelo Russell in addition to Lonnie Walker IV and Dennis Schroder, among others set to hit unrestricted free agency this offseason.

Related: Los Angeles Lakers’ Austin Reaves ‘increasingly likely’ to land massive contract this summer

With so many decisions to make for the front office, retaining Reaves may not be as easy as some would hope. Especially considering the shooting guard will be prioritizing getting paid this offseason, as he recently hinted at during an appearance on the Point Forward podcast.

“Anybody that says we don’t play the game for money is lying. I want to make as much money as I can and be as successful as I can no matter where it’s at.”

Los Angeles Lakers’ Austin Reaves on his future (H/T NBA Central)

Well, at least he’s honest. It’s hard to fault Reaves, who has shown he’s not afraid to change teams if the fit isn’t right after beginning his college career at Wichita State before transferring to Oklahoma to try and capitalize on his strong play while the offers are there.

After going undrafted, Reaves knows nothing in the NBA is guaranteed, and as Tracy McGrady recently suggested, some players are only in the league “based off relationships.”

Reaves would be wise to take what he can, while he can, because there are 60+ players in the next draft class coming to take his job each and every year. As a player who’s had to work his tail off for his own roster spot, no one understands this more than Austin Reaves himself.

Related: NBA playoff predictions: Bracket picks & 2023 Finals champion

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