The Lakers were swept out of the Western Conference Finals and are facing several big decisions in NBA Free Agency. Here are the biggest.
The Los Angeles Lakers had one of the greatest in-season turnarounds in NBA history. At the start of the season, they were 2-10. At the trade deadline, they were 25-31 and the No. 13 seed. They would finish the season 43-39 and would find themselves in the Western Conference Finals.
Unfortunately, the magical run for the Lakers ended up with a four-game sweep at the hands of the Denver Nuggets. This new Lakers team was a well-fit team but only five players on the roster are under contract for next season. The Lakers have a lot of questions and decisions to make heading into free agency.
Lakers biggest offseason decisions: 3. Keeping Austin Reaves
One of the biggest surprises for the Lakers this season was the emergence of the undrafted kid from Oklahoma — Austin Reaves. On the season he averaged 13 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists, shooting 53 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3 and 86 percent from the free throw line. He really stepped it up for the Lakers over their last 26 games where he averaged 16.4 points, 3 rebounds, 5.1 assists on 57.4 percent shooting from the field, 44 percent from 3 and 85 percent from the free throw line.
Reaves would continue his success in the playoffs, being the Lakers’ third leading scorer averaging 16.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.6 assists on 46/44/90 splits. In the Conference Finals, he would average 21.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.3 assists on 55/56/100 splits. On the biggest stage, he performed at the highest level.
Reaves is going into the 2023 free agency as a restricted free agent. The Lakers can offer him an extension but there are fears that there are other teams that are willing to offer him a much bigger contract than what the Lakers can afford. If a team is willing to offer him a $100 million dollar contract, the Lakers will have a tough decision about matching, potentially needing to let other players go to keep Reaves.
Reaves has given every reason for the Lakers to keep him but signing a contract that big will hurt their chances of signing more role players or another big star.