The Los Angeles Lakers were four wins away from the NBA Finals. With the Phoenix Suns making big moves, how can LA keep pace in the hotly contested Western Conference?
All eyes turn toward the Los Angeles Lakers. After getting swept out of the conference finals, LA faces several critical offseason decisions. Close but not close enough is always the trickiest spot to be in from a team-building perspective.
To make matters more urgent, the Phoenix Suns acquired Bradley Beal in a trade with the Washington Wizards on Sunday. The competition in the West just got more fierce, with Phoenix emerging as imminent frontrunners alongside the reigning-champion Nuggets.
The Lakers would like to join that group as part of the contenders circle. What can the team realistically make happen to accomplish that goal?
No. 3 move the Lakers need to make to keep up with Suns: Re-sign Austin Reaves
Some team is going to throw a lot of money at Austin Reaves in free agency. Maybe the kind of money that makes the Lakers queasy, despite the Oklahoma product’s prolific postseason run. That said, LA has Reaves’ restricted free agency rights and the power to match any offer sheet. That should be the goal.
Reaves is too critical to the Lakers’ offense to lose him for nothing. Financial matters will get complicated in advance of the new CBA, but Reaves’ tenacious defense, bankable three-point shooting, and consistent rim pressure was a real boon for an offense that struggled to field consistent guard play elsewhere.
The Spurs and Rockets feel like the biggest contenders for Reaves’ services. Both have an ocean of cap space and glaring needs on the perimeter (assuming James Harden ultimately spurns Houston in favor of returning to Philadelphia). Even if Reaves’ next contract gets in the $80-100 million range, however, the Lakers should bite the bullet and keep him in town.