3 bold predictions for the Lakers offseason

3 bold predictions for the Lakers offseason

D'Angelo Russell, Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

D’Angelo Russell, Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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Austin Reaves (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Lakers’ ability to navigate a tricky offseason will determine their ability to compete for a championship next season. 

The Lakers finished the regular season as the No. 7 seed, but that finish was always misleading. After the trade deadline, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the Lakers were playing at a 57-win pace. The No. 1 seed Nuggets won 53 games.

This was very much a real contender. Davis was the best defender in the playoffs. LeBron is old, but he’s still a singular athletic phenom and the greatest basketball mind of his generation. Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura, Dennis Schroder — the supporting cast, also quite good when it counted.

Those pesky Nuggets ultimately dispatched LA in the conference finals, but the Lakers’ season was anything but a failure. Especially when one considers where it started, with Russell Westbrook being demoted to the bench and a brand new head coach in the driver’s seat.

Now, can the Lakers keep that positive momentum in the summer?

Lakers bold offseason prediction: Austin Reaves will not return

The Lakers have the ability to match offer sheets for Austin Reaves, who is a restricted free agent. The Lakers very publicly want to keep Reaves, who was tremendous after the All-Star break before elevating his performance level even more in the playoffs. 

Thing is, another team will give Reaves a big offer sheet. Possibly in the range of four years and $90-100 million. The Lakers could pay that, but LeBron James and Anthony Davis are already under max contracts. The new CBA makes it very difficult to built out expensive rosters. To make matters even more complicated, Rui Hachimura is also a restricted free agent.

Rob Pelinka and the front office should absolutely prioritize Reaves over Hachimura. But, Reaves is likely more expensive. Crafty secondary guards who explode in the postseason have gotten paid in recent summers. The Lakers may straight-up just not be able to afford Reaves’ eventual price point.

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