Austin Reaves has been a known commodity to Los Angeles Lakers fans for more than a year, but the rest of the NBA world discovered him this past season.
When L.A. needed him most in the postseason, the 24-year-old consistently stepped up. Throughout the playoffs he averaged 16.9 points, 4.6 assists and 4.4 rebounds. Moreover, he shot 44.3 percent from beyond the arc.
Against the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals, specifically, Reaves averaged 21.3 points, 5.3 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game. A lot of times he looked like the Lakers’ second-best player on the court.
Whereas D’Angelo Russell shrunk under the spotlight of the postseason, much to LeBron James’ chagrin, Reaves stepped up to the occasion. There’s a reason he and his girlfriend became international stars through the 2023 NBA playoffs.
The downside for Los Angeles when it comes to Reaves’ newfound popularity is that he is a restricted free agent this summer. That means another squad can attempt to pry him away.
According to Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report, three teams are viewed as legitimate contenders to steal Reaves away from L.A.
“This offer could come from a number of young teams with cap space that need a do-it-all combo guard, a list that includes the Houston Rockets, Orlando Magic and San Antonio Spurs,” he wrote.
This isn’t the first time Reaves has been linked to these teams. According to Kelly Iko of The Athletic, Houston does have very real interest in bringing Reaves onboard. Orlando, similarly, has been looking for someone with his skillset since the Jordan Poole rumors of last summer.
That said, Swartz’s expectation is that when everything is said and done Reaves will remain in purple and gold. His prediction is that “Reaves signs an offer sheet above $50 million with another team, one the Lakers will match.”
And he isn’t the only one to believe that Reaves is staying put.
According to NBA insider Marc Stein, L.A. is “determined” to retain both Reaves and Rui Hachimura.
Also working in Los Angeles’ favor is that Reaves genuinely does seem to want to stay.
“I wanna be here,” Reaves said in his exit interview.
“This feels like home to me in a sense. Obviously this is a lot different than my actual home. It’s a little bigger, a lot more people, worse traffic. But I told somebody a couple months ago that it feels like a home for me basically.
There’s a new Olivia Dunne and she’s giving the old Olivia Dunne a run for her money. https://t.co/ckhgjKTU3N
— Game 7 (@game7__) May 25, 2023
“The way the fans support me, the players, coaching staff, front office. This is definitely somewhere I wanna be, but we’ll see what happens.”
Will the Lakers ultimately be able to retain Reaves this summer? An answer one way or the other will emerge soon enough.