After getting swept in the Western Conference Finals in 2023, the Los Angeles Lakers still had a successful season considering how the team started the year.
Coming off one of if not the most disappointing season in Lakers history in 2021-22, L.A. got off to another rough start at 2-10. There was uncertainty whether the front office would make moves to salvage the season. Thankfully, they did and after those changes, guard Austin Reaves seemingly took his game to another level.
Reaves would cement himself in the starting lineup and impress in his first postseason run. Through those 16 playoff games, he averaged 16.9 points, 4.6 assists and 4.4 rebounds on 46.4% from the field and 44.3% from 3. The Arkansas native would then enter restricted free agency over the summer with a lot of rumored interest and potentially a big payday.
Entering free agency for the first time, Reaves recently revealed that he turned to his teammates Anthony Davis and D’Angelo Russell for advice during the process, via Mirin Fader of The Ringer:
Reaves had talked with some of his Lakers teammates about his impending future, especially Davis and D’Angelo Russell, two teammates with whom he’s grown especially close. “We had a very good feeling that L.A. was going to offer the [max] right away, and I asked [Russell and Davis] if I should take that or if I should wait. And they both gave me their opinions, and I took it to heart, because I feel like both of those guys, we have real relationships on the court, off the court.”
While there were a lot of rumors, ultimately there were seemingly no competitors for the Lakers to sign Reaves. The San Antonio Spurs were a team that heavily considered but never decided to offer a contract to the guard.
L.A. made it abundantly clear that they were going to match any offer sheet, but being his first time in free agency, it makes sense for Reaves to ask for opinions of those who’ve been there before. Learning these tactics will help the 25-year-old down the line in future contract negotiations or if he enters free agency again.
Now after securing a four-year, $54 million contract to stay with the Lakers, Reaves earns himself a nice raise after being undrafted, earning a two-way deal and elevated to a two-year, $2.49 million contract in 2021. The focus for him now is to win a championship for L.A. alongside LeBron James and Davis.
Reaves calls Russell one of his ‘best friends’
Russell came back to the Lakers at the trade deadline last season and quickly boosted the chemistry of the team. Reaves got free agency advice from Russell and now calls him one of his ‘best friends’ which is a great relationship that developed in a short amount of time after the trade deadline.
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