Austin Reaves has not only become a pillar of the Lakers organization in the last two seasons, but he has also become a crucial part in the franchise’s playoff aspirations without star LeBron James, who is still healing from a tendon injury in his right foot.
Los Angeles (37–37) has won seven of its last 10 games that includes a current three-game winning streak and sits at No. 8 in the Western Conference, tied with the Timberwolves (37–37) and 1.5 games behind the Warriors (39–36) at No. 6 for the final playoff spot. Through five of the Lakers last 10 games, Reaves has averaged 22.2 points, five rebounds, seven assists while shooting 50% from the floor, numbers way above his season averages of 12.3 points and 3.1 assists per game.
But when the 2022–23 season comes to an end this summer, the 24-year-old will be a restricted free agent. While Los Angeles will have the option to match any offer that another team attempts to provide Reaves with, he really wants to stay in Los Angeles.
However, Reaves made it clear that money will be factor in his future decisions and that the NBA, like most professional sports, come down to “business.”
“Obviously everybody loves the game … it’s the NBA though,” Reaves told former NBA forward Evan Turner on the Point Forward podcast. “It’s a business at the end of the day. … Anybody that says we don’t play the game for money, to me, is lying because I feel like if you wasn’t getting paid, I don’t know if you would be here doing it.”
“… I want to make as much money as I can and be as successful as I can no matter where it’s at.”
It does not hurt that James recently shouted out Reaves for his 35-point performance in the Lakers’ win against the Magic on Sunday. However, Reeves plans to maximize his full potential wherever he signs his next deal.
Until then, he will continue his part in the process of attempting to elevate the Lakers out of a play-in spot into a playoff appearance in the Western Conference.