The Lakers drafted Indiana graduate Jalen Hood-Schifino with the 17th overall pick in last week’s draft and the franchise may have big plans for him.
The selection of the combination guard may have surprised some Lakers fans, given how guard-heavy their roster is already.
Austin Reaves is a restricted free agent this summer though, as is D’Angelo Russell.
So if the Lakers are priced out of the market and can’t get Reaves back, Hood-Schifino could act as his replacement, according to Daniel Starkand of Lakers Nation.
“It remains to be seen how free agency will play out in the coming days, but according to league sources, the Lakers’ two top targets in the 2023 NBA Draft were Hood-Schifino and Kobe Bufkin, another guard who was selected 15th overall by the Atlanta Hawks just two picks before L.A.,” Starkand said.
“The reason the Lakers were so high on both guards is they saw them as potential replacements for Reaves should an offer sheet price them out of bringing the restricted free agent back, league sources tell Lakers Nation.”
Reaves skyrocketed in his development last season and became the Lakers’ third best player behind LeBron and Anthony Davis.
The 25-year-old has garnered some interest from rivals teams including Houston, Indiana and San Antonio.
LA reportedly think rookie Hood-Schifino will compliment Reaves well but seem to be preparing for the worst just in case Reaves doesn’t return.
The Lakers have Reaves’ Early Bird rights so can offer a maximum of four years and $51 million but can match offers from rival teams because Reaves is a restricted agent.
It was reported earlier this month that the Lakers were prepared to match offers up to $100 million.
Reaves also has an Arenas provision, meaning rival teams can offer him limited money for the first two years of his contract.
But these teams can then offer the guard the max in the third or fourth year – the old poison pill contract, as it’s known.
An undrafted Reaves earned the league minimum in his first two seasons so could be chasing big money.
With free agency set to enter full swing later this week, Reaves will have a big decision to make.