Throughout his career, there have always been certain types of players who just fit perfectly alongside Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James. High IQ players who play the game the right way and can operate on and off the ball have always thrived with LeBron, and no player on this year’s team fit that mold more than Austin Reaves.
Reaves’ ability to read the game and be an off-ball shooter as well as create for himself and his teammates offensively was perfect for James and the Lakers. Whether that will continue next season is unclear as Reaves is a restricted free agent and LeBron is considering retirement.
When asked his thoughts on James possibly retiring this summer, Reaves reflected on all the future Hall of Famer has accomplished, noting how amazing it was the LeBron had such an outstanding career considering all the pressure that was on him from the moment he stepped foot in the league.
“Never wanna see a guy like that not play, just because of how good he is,” Reaves said at his exit interview. “He’s been a staple of the NBA since he got drafted in ’03 basically. He had the biggest opportunity to be a failure, in my opinion, if he wasn’t a first ballot Hall of Famer, won championships with the scrutiny that he got. If he didn’t do what he did everybody would look at him as a failure and if it was anybody else’s career it’d be one of the greatest players ever.
“So for a guy like that to hint about that, I don’t know, but you never wanna see a guy like that leave the game just because of all he’s done for it, the level that he’s still playing at. So hopefully he’s back next year and I get to play with him again.”
Lakers fans would surely love to see both Reaves and James back in purple and gold next season. Reaves even made sure to text LeBron following the Lakers’ final game of the season after hearing about the possibility of him retiring.
“I texted him and just appreciated him for accepting me and really just trusting in me and giving me an opportunity to be myself and help us win basketball games. That was really it.”
For an undrafted player to have the trust of James to run the offense and create for the team regularly has to be a massive confidence boost and it was deserved for Reaves, who continually delivered. Ideally, both will be back with the Lakers next season helping push this team to one more championship run.
Austin Reaves says Lakers feels like home and hopes to stay in free agency
Reaves has undoubtedly played his way into a very hefty contract in free agency. As a restricted free agent, the Lakers can match any offer he receives and it is believed they will do just that, with Reaves also making it clear that he wants to stay in L.A.
“I wanna be here,” Reaves said in his exit interview. “This feels like home to me in a sense. Obviously this is a lot different than my actual home. It’s a little bigger, a lot more people, worse traffic. But I told somebody a couple months ago that it feels like a home for me basically.
“The way the fans support me, the players, coaching staff, front office. This is definitely somewhere I wanna be, but we’ll see what happens.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!