Is Austin Reaves worth a generous offer sheet from the Spurs in free agency?
By Cal Durrett
After winning the NBA Draft Lottery, the Spurs have seen their offseason priorities drastically shift. With San Antonio in a position to select Victor Wembanyama first overall, they could use their cap space to begin building around their new franchise player. Since most of their core is 23 or younger, pursuing veteran free agents like Kyrie Irving and Draymond Green might be off the table since they conflict with their timeline.
Instead, they should set their sights on players in a reasonable age range this summer, such as Naz Reid or, more specifically, Austin Reaves. Reaves went undrafted in 2021 but worked his way up to the starting lineup for the Los Angeles Lakers, and he was instrumental in their improbable run to the Western Conference Finals.
The Spurs signing Reaves would be a steal
Reaves can capitalize on an impressive season this summer in restricted free agency, and while the Lakers have the right of first refusal, the Spurs could still sign him to an offer sheet. Doing so could benefit the Spurs in a couple of ways. For one, they could stick it to their longtime rivals by tendering him a four-year, $50 million deal.
Upping the value of his next contract by even a couple of million a season would cost the Lakers a lot since they are at risk of falling victim to the repeater tax penalty. Pettiness aside, acquiring Reaves would be a tremendous value for the Spurs. While the team isn't exactly hurting for shooting guards with Devin Vassell, Malaki Branham, and Devonte Graham already on the roster, Reaves is a legitimate starting-caliber two-guard who could be a steal for only $12.5 million a season.
Reaves is a well-rounded offensive player who can knock down open shots on the perimeter and create for himself and others out of the pick-and-roll. Those skills have resulted in several big playoff games for Reaves; he was third on the Lakers in scoring at 16.9 points per game this postseason. That would make him an excellent addition to the Spurs, particularly off the bench as a sixth man. However, he may prefer staying in Los Angeles and starting, though he could still sign an offer sheet with San Antonio, knowing the Lakers are unlikely to let him leave this summer.
Though Reaves is undoubtedly worth a lucrative offer from the Spurs, the odds are that the Lakers will opt to keep him. After all, they won't be able to do much this summer, which makes bringing back one of their best players a top priority. That may be for the best since San Antonio has plenty of depth at shooting guard, and adding Reaves would hamper the development of Branham and Blake Wesley. Both backcourt prospects should be better next season, as should the Spurs after landing Wembanyama.