Los Angeles Lakers willing to spend $100 million to retain key free agent

The Los Angeles Lakers are facing a decision relating to impending restricted free agent guard Austin Reaves.

After what was a breakout sophomore season with Los Angeles, the former undrafted free agent from Oklahoma is set to cash in big time on the NBA free agent market. In fact, some believe that he’s already priced himself out of the Lakers’ market. Due to NBA salary cap rules, the Lakers can only offer Reaves $54 million over four years. Though, they can match any offer presented to the 25-year-old guard.

According to a report from Jovan Buha of The Athletic, Los Angeles is willing to match any offer for Reaves up to $100 million in cold hard cash. Buha further explained the reasoning behind this.

“He’s priority No. 1 for the Lakers this offseason. I think they learned from the Alex Caruso situation,” Buha said. “Frankly, I think this would be a bigger disaster than Caruso because Reaves is a better player, and he’s shown more,” report on Austin Reaves and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Fellow breakout star Rui Hachimura is also slated to become a restricted free agent. Acquired in a mid-season three-team trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves, guard D’Angelo Russell will become an unrestricted free agent in July. Despite this, Los Angeles’ top priority is to re-sign Reaves.

Related: Austin Reaves and the top-100 NBA free agents of 2023

What is Austin Reaves worth to the Los Angeles Lakers?

Los Angeles Lakers guard Austin Reaves
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

It must be noted that Reaves has played at a high level since the guard made his debut with the Lakers back in 2021-22. He averaged 7.3 points and 3.2 rebounds on 46% shooting in 61 games (19 starts) as a rookie. However, Reaves took his game to a new level as a sophomore.

  • Austin Reaves stats (2022-23): 13.0 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 3.4 APG, 53% shooting, 40% 3-point

Those shooting splits were huge for a Lakers team that saw stars LeBron James (32%) and Anthony Davis (26%) struggle from three-point range. In reality, Reaves is one of the reasons why Los Angeles turned it around after some early season struggles to earn a spot in the Western Conference Finals.

Over the course of his final 18 regular-season games, Reaves averaged 18.7 PPG, 3.4 RPG and 5.8 APG while shooting it at a ridiculous clip (57% FG, 43% 3-point). It’s not a coincidence that the Lakers went 13-5 during that span. Reaves was also tremendous during the playoffs (16.9 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 4.6 APG).

With all of that said, finances do play a role here. If a team were to offer Reaves $20 million annually on a five-year contract, that would eat into the Lakers’ salary cap flexibility moving forward. It’s all about what general manager Rob Pelinka and Co. believe Reaves’ ceiling is.

As of right now, the San Antonio Spurs are being linked to Austin Reaves more than any other team. They boast enough cap room to offer up a contract the Lakers simply might not be able to match.

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