Los Angeles Lakers Guard Austin Reaves became a household name after replacing Malik Beasley in the starting lineup. A 25-points and career-high 11 assists feat secured his place in the hearts of Lakers fandom. Reaves had impressive performances throughout the playoffs and is considered the Lakers third best player.
Now that the Lakers’ postseason has ended in a sweep, Lakers Superstar Lebron James has implied that the Lakers need to revamp the lineup if they want him to stay. This offseason will bring Reaves his first big NBA contract, but he’s not a superstar caliber player that James will likely require.
As a restricted free agent, other teams can offer Reaves more money than the Lakers can afford if they want a third superstar player. The Lakers may be forced to let Reaves walk. This makes the possibility of Reaves playing in a Spurs uniform more realistic than you think
The Lakers Need A Third Superstar
Ultimately the decision will be with Lakers GM Rob Pelinka. If he were to decide that restructuring the team for James is not worth it, they have nine players on the current roster entering free agency, and retaining Reaves will be easier.
The problem is that the 2023-24 season may be the Lakers’ last chance to compete for a Championship with James on the roster. James will be 39, entering his 21st season, and is still the undisputed first scoring option for the Lakers. Anthony Davis had great performances this season but, has fallen short of taking over as a first option.
This means they need to sign someone capable of taking the scoring burden off of James. The two names that have been mentioned as possible options are Kyrie Irving and Trae Young. Irving would need to accept a salary cut and Young would need a trade package.
Bold Moves For Kyrie Irving or Trae Young
In terms of cap space, with gutting the roster of most free agents the Lakers could have $35 million worth of cap space to sign Irving.
The question is will Irving be willing to walk away from a $272 million max contract with the Mavericks for a chance to compete for a second championship with James? Walking away from $54 million a year to somewhere around $30 million a year is a big decision for a player that left his previous team because they weren’t willing to pay him a max contract.
If Irving were able to agree to a lesser contract, the Lakers would have a player that has experience being successful with James and can take over as a first scoring option. The downside is that they’ll have to fill roster vacancies with players willing to play for a minimum contract.
As for Young, he’ll be entering the second year of a $207 million five-year contract. Next season he stands to make $40 million, that number goes up each year of his contract so a major trade package would be required for this option.
If the Hawks were willing to entertain such an offer, Young is a proven first-scoring option player. He may not be as talented as Irving but he would be a good addition to the Lakers roster.
Can The Lakers Afford To Match Offers?
With the cap space situation and the new CBA making the luxury repeater tax go up from $50 million to $70 million, Pelinka will have to decide how badly they want to keep Reaves.
The maximum qualifying offer for Reaves is $50 million, but as a restricted free agent other teams can offer as much as $80 million.
After an amazing season, there will be teams making Reaves offers. Pelinka will have to decide if $80 million is worth it for a potential fourth scoring option on the starting lineup.
Spurs and Rockets Could Offer The Max For Austin Reaves
The Houston Rockets have already expressed interest in pursuing Reaves. At the time of this writing, the San Antonio Spurs have not publicly shown interest in Reaves but as a team with a ton of cap space, offering Reaves a $80 million contract would add a 20-point-per-game scorer along with the incoming number 1 pick Victor Wembanyama.
Austin Reaves would be a good fit for the Spurs to make trades in 2025 when big-name free agents will be available like Paul George and Anthony Davis. A max deal gives the Spurs a chance to take away a key piece to a competitor’s roster. If the Rockets or another team also offer Reaves the $80 million max, you have to think that with a generational talent like Wembanyama incoming the Spurs would be an easy choice for Reaves to make.
Do you think the Lakers will bite the bullet and make Irving an offer and match an $80 million offer for Austin Reaves? Is Reaves worth that kind of Salary? Is it a smart move for the Spurs to pursue him? Comment your take below. Make sure you follow Project Spurs on Twitter and Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube Channel. We have all your offseason Spurs and Wembanyama news and analyst.