Lakers Draft Jalen Hood-Schifino As Potential Replacement For Austin Reaves Amid Free Agency Uncertainty

Photo: Instagram/Jalen Hood-Schifino

The Los Angeles Lakers made a surprising move in the 2023 NBA Draft by selecting Jalen Hood-Schifino, a combo guard from Indiana University, with the 17th pick. Given the team's already guard-heavy roster, some were taken aback by this decision.

However, reports indicate that the Lakers have expressed interest in retaining both Austin Reaves and D'Angelo Russell, who are currently free agents, along with Dennis Schroder. League sources reveal that the Lakers had their sights set on Hood-Schifino and Kobe Bufkin as their top targets in the draft.

Unfortunately, the Atlanta Hawks nabbed Bufkin with the 15th overall pick, just two selections before the Lakers' turn. The team viewed both guards as potential replacements for Reaves, in case his restricted free agency demands a contract that the Lakers are unable to match.

Photo: Instagram/Austin Reaves

Reaves, who is set to enter restricted free agency for the first time, has garnered attention after an impressive 2022-23 regular and postseason. During the Lakers' run to the Western Conference Finals, Reaves showcased his skills, averaging 16.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game while shooting efficiently from the field, beyond the arc, and from the free throw line.

As the start of free agency looms, Reaves has already caught the eye of rebuilding teams like the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs. However, due to the Lakers' limited Bird rights on Reaves, they can only offer him a maximum contract of four years and $51 million.

The team has the ability to match any offer sheet Reaves signs with another team, thanks to his restricted free agent status. Reaves finds himself in a unique situation under the "Arenas" provision in the league's collective bargaining agreement.

Other teams are restricted in the salary they can offer him in the initial two years of a new contract, but they can present a maximum contract in the subsequent years, potentially amounting to four years and $98 million—a poison pill contract.

While Reaves has expressed his desire to remain with the Lakers, he also aims to secure a lucrative deal in free agency, having earned the league minimum in his first two seasons. To achieve this, Reaves would need to receive an offer sheet from teams like the Rockets, Spurs, or any other franchise with significant cap space.

Should he receive a max offer, the Lakers will face the challenging decision of whether to match it, considering their other financial commitments and the new collective bargaining agreement. Following the draft, Lakers' general manager Rob Pelinka expressed enthusiasm about the potential pairing of Reaves and Hood-Schifino in the team's backcourt.

However, behind the scenes, the Lakers may be preparing for the possibility of losing Reaves in free agency, making Hood-Schifino a potential replacement.

Read Next: Atlanta Hawks Trade John Collins To Utah Jazz For Rudy Gay And Future Pick: Reports

Source: Lakers Nation

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