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#pounditTuesday, June 18, 2024

Report: Lakers unwilling to include Austin Reaves in trade package for 1 star

Austin Reaves smirking while wearing a Lakers shirt

Dec 13, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Austin Reaves (15) warms up prior to the game against the Boston Celtics at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers apparently think that Austin Reaves is really him.

Jovan Buha of The Athletic reports this week that the Lakers do not want to include Reaves as part of a potential trade package for Chicago Bulls All-Star Zach LaVine. Instead, Buha says that the most likely framework of a Lakers’ deal for LaVine would involve D’Angelo Russell, one of Rui Hachimura or Gabe Vincent as additional matching salary, and either a 2029 or a 2030 first-round draft pick (possibly with protections).

The Lakers have recently been linked to the Klutch Sports client LaVine, who attended UCLA for college and appears to be inching closer to a trade from the Bulls.

For Reaves, who just re-signed with the Lakers on a four-year, $50 million deal this offseason, he is having a bit of trouble to start this season. Though his numbers still look good overall (with a 14-5-5 stat line), Reaves has taken a big step back with his efficiency (a career-low 44.3 percent from the field) and his turnovers (a career-high 2.6 per game). It seems that the league is beginning to catch onto Reaves’ style of play, and he was recently demoted to the bench by the Lakers in favor of Cam Reddish.

There is still a strong argument for keeping Reaves however. He defends, gets into the lane, and can score at all three levels, making him a very ideal complementary player. Reaves is also a rare homegrown Laker (in a rotation that otherwise consists of exclusively outside acquisitions) and has superb chemistry with LeBron James. That certainly has to count for something.

But the bad news for the Lakers is that any iteration of a LaVine trade package without Reaves is just not very convincing. Russell is arguably a negative asset who doesn’t provide much when his shot isn’t falling, Hachimura and Vincent are bench cogs at best, and a protected first-rounder nearly a decade from now comes with too much uncertainty.

Chicago is likely to get much better value for LaVine, a multi-time All-Star and 25-ppg scorer in the prime of his career, from another team (like this other interested suitor). That means the Lakers will have to up the ante significantly if they don’t want the Bulls front office to hang up on them.

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