The Los Angeles Lakers have sought out roster flexibility over the past few weeks, but despite having the opportunity to let go of two incumbent players for free, both will be remaining in Los Angeles. The deadline for the Lakers to waive the non-guaranteed contracts of Avery Bradley and Austin Reaves has come and gone, and both are still part of the team. ESPN’s Dave McMenamin was the first to report that they would remain in Los Angeles.
The retention of Reaves was no surprise whatsoever. The undrafted rookie out of Oklahoma has become a fan-favorite and a plus-minus superstar. When he has been on the floor this season, the Lakers have outscored opponents by 11.1 points per 100 possessions. When he’s been off of it, they’ve been outscored by 4.3 points per 100 possessions. While he has no signature skill yet, he’s a steady shooter that moves off of the ball and can put the ball on the deck without being a defensive liability. The Lakers likely view him as a long-term rotation player.
Bradley’s case was a bit less predictable. The former All-Defense guard struggled mightily on that end of the floor to start the season, and given the chance to open a roster spot with no repercussions, many assumed his time as a Laker was coming to an end. But Bradley has improved meaningfully as the season has progressed and is quickly growing into one of their more valuable offensive players. He is shooting just under 40 percent from behind the arc on the season and has provided some sorely-needed cutting on that end of the floor.
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With Bradley’s position on the team now secure, all eyes turn to DeAndre Jordan and Kent Bazemore. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst recently reported that the Lakers were looking to move them in the interest of creating more roster spots for the buyout market. Rajon Rondo has already been traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, but his spot will presumably go to Stanley Johnson after he has played out two more 10-day contracts.
The NBA‘s trade deadline of Feb. 10 is nearing and the 20-19 Lakers still have plenty of work to do if they plan to rejoin the inner circle of championship contenders. There may be more moves coming here, but Bradley and Reaves have seemingly secured their place on the team moving forward.