The Los Angeles Lakers guarantee the contracts for Avery Bradley and Austin Reaves for the remainder of the 2021-2022 NBA season starting Friday afternoon.
ESPN’s Dave McMenamin first reported the news:
The fact that Austin Reaves and Avery Bradley have become major rotational players are two of the more pleasant surprises of this Lakers season. No-brainer to keep Bradley, given his play over the past few weeks. https://t.co/2irFG7np9F
— Michael Corvo (@michaelcorvoNBA) January 7, 2022
Neither decision is particularly surprising or challenging given how the season has gone so far. Reaves and Bradley have become key figures in the Lakers’ ever-changing rotation and are two of the team’s better two-way players.
Bradley, from whom the Lakers claimed waivers the day before the start of the season after being eliminated by the Golden State Warriors, has become an essential player, an off-ball cutter and perimeter defender for a team otherwise devoid of those precise things. The 31-year-old has started 26 of the 31 games he has played and has made just under 40% of his 3s. Since early December, Bradley has averaged 9.5 points on 46.3% range shooting. He will make $2.6 million for the season.
In a matter of months, Reaves went from untapped rookie with a two-way contract to Lakers folk hero, crunch-time staple, and plus/minus lord. The unannounced 23-year-old from an Arkansas ranch signed a two-year deal after impressing the Lakers at their pre-training camp in Las Vegas, a deal that will now be guaranteed until the end of his rookie year.
Reaves quickly became one of the most reliable Lakers, causing Frank Vogel’s rotation to crash within the first week of the season and never go away. He is a master of the small things, and his defense, playmaking, IQ and toughness have made him one of the most valuable players on the team.
I asked Austin Reaves if he had become a much more famous person since joining the Lakers:
“I don’t really go out much,” he said. “So I don’t really deal with that much. Stay in the house, play the game, lay down.”
Malik Monk teased his friend a few seconds later, “Are you famous bro?”
— Michael Corvo (@michaelcorvoNBA) January 3, 2022
With Stanley Johnson returning with a new 10-day contract, the Lakers currently have no open roster spots. Barring any transactions, their next notable personnel decision will be whether Johnson will be given another 10-day contract.