Ever since LeBron James signed with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018, the franchise has been in win-now mode trying to put the best supporting cast around him to compete for championships.
Included in that was the blockbuster acquisition of Anthony Davis in 2019, although it took a ton of draft picks and young assets to make that happen.
Because of that, having a first-round pick has been a rare commodity for the organization in recent years, so the scouting department had to do its homework on second-round or undrafted prospects.
It’s no secret that Joey and Jesse Buss have been the prominent figures of the scouting department and the latest gem was guard Austin Reaves, who was a restricted free agent this past summer. Reaves showed how valuable he is to the team in his first two seasons, becoming a building block for the future.
The 6’5″ guard recently discussed his plan in free agency, which was to stay in Los Angeles as he didn’t see himself going anywhere else, via ESPN’s Tim Bontemps:
“The whole time it was, ‘Get back to L.A.,'” Reaves said. “That’s where I want to be. It feels like home to me. I’ve said that multiple times before the free agency stuff, but it was different. I had a stressful probably 10 hours, but after that, when it was done, couldn’t be more excited with the situation, with the team that we got, going back to L.A.” Part of the stress, he said, was figuring out the kind of deal he would be getting. The Lakers could only offer him a four-year, $54 million contract due to Reaves being an early Bird restricted free agent, meaning one with only two years of service. Another team with cap space could have given him more money on a four-year deal, but ultimately none of them decided to sign Reaves to an offer sheet the Lakers would’ve been expected to match, setting up a return to Los Angeles — the outcome Reaves was always hoping for.
“We played out every scenario,” Reaves said “My agents, we talked probably literally like 10, 11 hours straight that night about what we wanted in the contract, years, whatever. “But like I said, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
In his first postseason run, Reaves showed that he is capable of performing at a high level when the lights are brightest to give the Lakers an extra scoring punch alongside James and Davis. It was a no-brainer for the front office to keep Reaves a Laker for the foreseeable future, and it’s great to hear that he had no desire to leave, even if he was a restricted free agent and L.A. could’ve matched any offer sheet he signed.
The Arkansas native has been a fan favorite in his short two years with the franchise and everyone is eager to see what he brings for years to come.
Rob Pelinka: Davis has desire to lead Lakers for many years
The unfortunate reality is that the front office is starting to build for the future and have the new era of Lakers basketball ready when James decides to hang it up. With Davis inking a new extension, he’s expressed to Rob Pelinka that he wants to lead the franchise for the foreseeable future, so it seems that he and Reaves are the organization’s long-term pieces to build around.
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