Austin Reaves emerged as a key player with the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2022-23 season. Although he is not necessarily regarded as a star, Reaves is in line for a big payday in 2023 NBA free agency. The question is, will Reaves return to the Lakers? Reaves is a restricted free agent and the Lakers are rumored to be willing to match the offer sheet for him. That said, nothing is guaranteed at the moment.
If teams are willing to give Austin Reaves a massive contract, such as a possible $100 million deal, it will be interesting to see if the Lakers are able to bring him back. Without further ado, let's take a look at the three best destinations for Austin Reaves in 2023 NBA free agency.
3. San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs? Really?
Yes, the Spurs would be a decent landing destination for Austin Reaves.
The Spurs are rumored to be a team with interest in him. This means they may be willing to offer him a truly lucrative deal. From a financial standpoint, this will obviously catch Austin Reaves' attention.
Additionally, the prospect of playing alongside projected No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama would surely entice him as well. Wembanyama is one of the most exciting prospects ever and could help the Spurs return to the playoffs within the next couple of years.
Finally, Reaves would receive the chance to be a consistent starter and potential star in San Antonio. At just 25-years old, he would be a building block for the future with the Spurs.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder
The Oklahoma City Thunder are a perfect fit for Austin Reaves in a lot of ways.
OKC reportedly has the necessary cap space to sign him, per Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype. Furthermore, the Thunder displayed signs of becoming a contender this past season, and they may take a step forward during the 2023-24 campaign. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is their best player, and Josh Giddey is an exciting talent as well. Chet Holmgren was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, but missed all of this past season due to injury.
In 2023-24 though, Holmgren is expected to return and could emerge as a star. Adding a player like Austin Reaves to the core would enhance the Thunder's chances of making a legitimate postseason run.
With all of that being said, there is still one team that makes the most sense for Austin Reaves in 2023 NBA free agency.
1. Los Angeles Lakers
Would Austin Reaves be the best player on the Lakers? No, not with LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the team. However, Reaves shined in his role for Los Angeles this past season.
If he returns to LA, which is quite likely assuming the Lakers do match any contract offer, Reaves would probably become a full-time starter. This would give him the chance to be more than a depth role player and possibly post impressive numbers.
If Reaves were to leave LeBron's side and go elsewhere, there's no telling if he'd be able to replicate or even improve upon his production. Austin Reaves has found comfort with the Lakers, so returning to LA makes sense.
Following Reaves' free agency journey will be interesting. It will be especially intriguing to see what kind of money he ends up making following his encouraging 2022-23 effort with the Lakers.