Austin Reaves

Lakers Notes: Russ-LeBron, Nunn, AD, Reaves

Pricey new Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook expressed confidence in his fit alongside LeBron James, one of the most ball-dominant teammates with whom the very ball-dominant Westbrook has ever played. The decorated 6’3″ vet also made it clear that Los Angeles is heading into the 2021/22 season with title expectations.

“LeBron out of anybody else, he knows what it takes to win a championship,” Westbrook said during the team’s Media Day on Tuesday, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN. “And that’s the ultimate goal. So anything along the way … we cannot get distracted, cannot get deterred from our ultimate goal.”

The Lakers will be Westbrook’s fourth team in four years, following stints with the Thunder in 2018/19, the Rockets in 2019/20, and the Wizards in 2020/21. Last year, Westbrook was not named to the All-Star team during a relatively healthy season for the first time since 2009/10. His backcourt mate Bradley Beal was the lone Wizards player to earn that honor in 2021.

Though he averaged 22.2 PPG, a league-leading 11.7 APG, and 11.5 RPG (his fourth triple-double in five seasons), Westbrook was relatively inefficient as a shooter during his Wizards tenure. Westbrook posted a shooting line of .439/.315/.656. The Lakers are hoping that the 2017 MVP, 32, can help expedite their offense and relieve 36-year-old LeBron James of his playmaking burden, especially during the regular season.

He ups our pace right away,” James raved about his new teammate. “He’s always in the top five as far as pace. Whatever team is what he with, so being able to get out and being able to get out on the break and be able to try to get some early buckets before the defense is set. That creates that. But also he’s just a flat-out playmaker. I think what a lot of people don’t talk about in his game is how unbelievable of a passer he is. Everyone sees the rebounds, everyone sees the scoring and things of that nature, but his passing, his ability to make guys around him better, that does not get talked about a lot.”

There’s more out of Los Angeles:

  • New Lakers guard Kendrick Nunn has joined many of his L.A. teammates on the decorated roster of Klutch Sports clients, McMenamin reports (via Twitter). Nunn, who faced off against the Lakers in the 2020 Finals as a rookie on the Heat, signed a two-year, $10MM deal with Los Angeles this summer. After going undrafted out of Oakland in 2018, the 6’2″ point guard carved out a role for himself on a veteran-laden Miami squad in the 2019/20 season, and was named to the All-Rookie First Team in 2020. Nunn averaged 15.0 PPG, 3.0 APG, 2.9 APG and 0.9 SPG during his two seasons with the Heat. The 26-year-old boasts an impressive career shooting line of .458/.364/.881.
  • Lakers All-Star big man Anthony Davis acknowledged during the team’s Media Day that he has had conversations with head coach Frank Vogel about finally becoming the club’s starting center, per Mark Medina of USA Today (Twitter video link). Los Angeles rebuilt its frontcourt rotation around Davis during the offseason, adding veteran former All-Star centers DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard on minimum deals. “That was discussed and I expect to play center,” Davis said. “Obviously there’s times where Dwight or DJ might get the start at center depending on games, but for the most part, I think the plan is to go with me playing center.” In the past, Davis has preferred to start at the power forward position. He has shared the floor alongside a variety of veteran centers while with the Lakers, though Los Angeles found its most success in the 2020 playoffs with Davis at the center position.
  • Further details have emerged concerning the new contract of Lakers guard Austin Reaves, per Keith Smith of Spotrac (via Twitter). Smith reports that the deal is a two-year contract at the league minimum. Reaves has a partial guarantee of $100K for the 2021/22 season, and his full first-year salary will become guaranteed on January 10, 2022. The second year of the agreement is fully non-guaranteed. The 6’5″ rookie, 23, went undrafted out of Oklahoma this summer.

Lakers Sign Austin Reaves To Two-Year Deal

SEPTEMBER 27: The Lakers have officially confirmed Reaves’ new contract.


SEPTEMBER 26: The Lakers are planning to sign guard Austin Reaves to a two-year contract, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). The second year of the agreement contains a team option, Charania reports, and Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times notes the first season is partially guaranteed.

Reaves, 23, had been on a two-way contract with the club, so his new deal represents a promotion to the standard roster, putting him in line to be the 14th man on the regular season squad.

Charania notes that the Lakers view Reaves in a similar mold to guards Talen Horton-Tucker and Alex Caruso, two players they managed to successfully develop in recent seasons.

Reaves went unselected in the 2021 NBA Draft. He spent two collegiate seasons at Wichita State, then two more at Oklahoma, averaging 18.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.6 assists during his final year.

The Lakers, who have 17 players under contract, now have a two-way roster spot available to use.

Lakers Sign Joel Ayayi, Austin Reaves To Two-Way Deals

AUGUST 3: The two-way signings of Ayayi and Reaves are now official, the Lakers announced today in a press release.


JULY 30: The Lakers have reached an agreement with undrafted free agent Joel Ayayi on a two-way contract, a source tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). The club has also agreed to sign rookie shooting guard Austin Reaves to a two-way contract, reports Dave McMenamin of ESPN (Twitter link).

Reaves and Ayayi rank second and third, respectively, on ESPN’s list of undrafted prospects.

Ayayi, a 6’5″ wing, averaged 12.0 PPG and 6.9 RPG on .575/.389/.781 shooting in 32 games (31.3 MPG) for the Zags as a junior in 2020/21. Reaves, who began his college career at Wichita State, transferred to Oklahoma for his last two seasons and had his best year in 2020/21, putting up 18.3 PPG, 5.5 RPG, and 4.6 APG, though his three-point percentage was a modest 30.5%.

Ayayi and Reaves appear likely to take the roster spots previously held by two-way players Kostas Antetokounmpo and Devontae Cacok. Both players are free agents this offseason, and Antetokounmpo has already lined up a deal with a team in France.

Draft Notes: Mann, Taylor, Cunningham, Hornets

NBA draft prospect Tre Mann expressed confidence that he’s the best guard in this year’s class, as relayed by Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

Mann, 20, spent the past two seasons at Florida. He held per-game averages of 16 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists during the 2020/21 campaign, shooting 46% from the floor and 40% from deep.

“I think I’m the best guard in the draft, top-five for sure,” Mann said.

When asked about his strengths and weaknesses ahead of Thursday’s event, he gave a fair outlook.

“My strengths are my ability to create for myself and my teammates, my craftiness, and my ability to shoot off the dribble on the three-point line or a couple of steps behind the line,” Mann said. “The weaknesses that I think I need to work on are the simpler plays, like making the simple reads out of the ball screens and trying to make the game as easy as possible.”

Here are some other draft-related notes to pass along:

Southeast Notes: Magic, Kuminga, Unseld, Oladipo, Hawks

Projected top-eight pick Jonathan Kuminga worked out for the Magic on Tuesday, writes Josh Cohen of OrlandoMagic.com. Kuminga has also worked out for the Cavaliers, Raptors and Thunder, and has an upcoming workout with the Warriors.

According to Chris Hays of The Orlando Sentinel, Kuminga said that the workout with Orlando went well and that his shooting is better than he showed during his time with the G League Ignite.

I’m not for sure if I’m a top-five pick, but I’m not worried about that,” Kuminga said. “That’s just the rankings. We don’t know where I might end up, so I don’t really be concerned about draft picks.”

We have more from around the Southeast Division:

Draft Notes: Early Entrants, Bleijenbergh, Sengun, Hurt, Reaves

Senegalese center Ibou Badji and German big man Ariel Hukporti have withdrawn from the 2021 NBA draft, according to a pair of reports from Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter links).

Both players were considered potential second-round picks, ranking 59th and 63rd respectively on ESPN’s big board of 2021 prospects. However, Givony notes that Hukporti – like a number of international players who withdrew before today’s deadline – wasn’t interested in being a draft-and-stash prospect. It’s unclear if Badji felt the same way, but both players will be looking to boost their stock ahead of the 2022 draft.

Another potential second-round pick, Senegalese big man Amar Sylla, will be keeping his name in the draft, Givony tweets. The 19-year-old, who ranks 81st on ESPN’s board, is a strong draft-and-stash candidate, Givony adds.

Here’s more on the 2021 draft:

  • Belgian wing Vrenz Bleijenbergh, another one of the international prospects keeping his name in the draft, indicated (via Twitter) that he completed a workout with the Mavericks and has a meeting with the Raptors up next.
  • Turkish League MVP Alperen Sengun, who visited the Kings over the weekend, had a workout this morning with the Spurs and is on his way to meet with the Magic, reports Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee (Twitter link). Sengun could be a lottery pick next Thursday.
  • Duke forward Matthew Hurt worked out for the Sixers today and has the Clippers, Nets, and Magic on tap later this week, according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link), who adds that Hurt also recently impressed in workouts with the Rockets and Bucks.
  • Oklahoma guard Austin Reaves is keeping busy during the pre-draft process — Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer tweets that Reaves is working out for a total of 18 NBA teams, including the Hawks, Knicks, Sixers, Nets, and Hornets.

Draft Notes: Executive Roundup, Duarte, Monyyong, Lakers, Mini-Combine

In a Draft Confidential column for The Athletic, Hall-of-Fame reporter David Aldridge interviews anonymous team executives and college coaches to get their inside scoop on the 2021 draft’s burning questions.

Some of the topics discussed: the Jalen Green versus Jalen Suggs debate, who will be the fourth guard taken after Suggs, Green, and Cade Cunningham are off the board (James Bouknight, Moses Moody, Davion Mitchell, and Keon Johnson are the top candidates), draft promises, some of the late risers (Joshua Primo, Nah’Shon Hyland, Miles McBride, and others), and a whole lot more.

We have more news from the draft:

Pacers Notes: Fizdale, Collins, Pritchard, Turner, Sabonis, Workouts

David Fizdale turned down more money from the Pacers to be one of Rick Carlisle’s lead assistants in order to take a similar job with the Lakers, according to Marc Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link). Indiana’s interest in Fizdale was previously reportedFormer Warriors assistant coach Jarron Collins is being considered for an assistant coaching position with the Pacers, Spears adds.

We have more on the Pacers;

  • President of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard said the hiring of Carlisle is a signal that the franchise is intent on winning a title, according to Michael Marot of The Associated Press“We’re in a win-now mode, we’re trying to win and so we identified some traits or characteristics we wanted in a coach,” Pritchard said. “Those characteristics were first of all multiyear experience, we really wanted to have someone who had a championship pedigree and that can be challenging to find all of them in one person. What happened in this year’s search is Rick became available.”
  • Myles Turner‘s name has often been tossed into trade rumors but Carlisle believes he can get more out of the frontcourt duo of Domantas Sabonis and Turner, Wheat Hotchkiss of Pacers.com writes. “When my teams have played them over the last few years, we’ve always felt like it was a physical beating that we were taking with them, both defensively and offensively,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the challenge of making it work.”
  • The team is bringing in Brandon Boston Jr. (Kentucky), Matt Coleman III (Texas), EJ Onu (Shawnee State), Austin Reaves (Oklahoma), Jaden Springer (Tennessee) and Moses Wright (Georgia Tech) for pre-draft workouts on Thursday, according to a team press release. Springer, a point guard, is ranked No. 27 on ESPN’s Best Available list. Shooting guards Boston (No. 41) and Reaves (No. 44) are also ranked in the Top 50.

Full List Of 2021 NBA Draft Combine Participants

The NBA has revealed via press release its list of 69 players who have been invited to next week’s draft combine in Chicago and who are expected to attend. The combine will take place from June 21-17.

While several of the prominent names at the top of the draft will opt to skip the event – most notably, presumed number one pick Cade Cunningham and Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs – there are several high-profile prospects set to attend. Evan Mobley, widely considered a likely choice for the No. 2 pick as well as potential top-five picks Jonathan Kuminga and Jalen Green headline the class of participants this year, along with potential lottery picks Moses Moody, Corey Kispert and Scottie Barnes.

According to the press release, players will conduct interviews with NBA teams, participate in five-on-five games, and go through shooting, strength and agility drills throughout the week-long event. It’s likely that the more high-profile names will focus more on the interviews than the drills.

The press release also confirms that a select number of standout players from the G League Elite Camp will be invited to participate in the Combine as well.

Here’s the full list of 69 names announced by the NBA today, in alphabetical order:

  1. Max Abmas, G, Oral Roberts (sophomore)
  2. Ochai Agbaji, G, Kansas (junior)
  3. Marcus Bagley, F, Arizona State (freshman)
  4. Scottie Barnes, F, Florida State (freshman)
  5. Charles Bassey, C, Western Kentucky (junior)
  6. Brandon Boston Jr., G/F, Kentucky (freshman)
  7. James Bouknight, G, UConn (sophomore)
  8. Greg Brown, F, Texas (freshman)
  9. Jared Butler, G, Baylor (junior)
  10. Julian Champagnie, G/F, St. John’s (sophomore)
  11. Justin Champagnie, G/F, Pittsburgh (sophomore)
  12. Josh Christopher, G, Arizona State (freshman)
  13. Sharife Cooper, G, Auburn (freshman)
  14. Ayo Dosunmu, G, Illinois (junior)
  15. David Duke, G, Providence (junior)
  16. Kessler Edwards, F, Pepperdine (junior)
  17. Luka Garza, C, Iowa (senior)
  18. RaiQuan Gray, F, Florida State (junior)
  19. Jalen Green, G, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  20. Quentin Grimes, G, Houston (junior)
  21. Sam Hauser, F, Virginia (senior)
  22. Aaron Henry, G/F, Michigan State (junior)
  23. Ariel Hukporti, C, Lithuania (born 2002)
  24. Matthew Hurt, F, Duke (sophomore)
  25. Nah’Shon Hyland, G, VCU (sophomore)
  26. Isaiah Jackson, F, Kentucky (freshman)
  27. David Johnson, G, Louisville (sophomore)
  28. Jalen Johnson, F, Duke (freshman)
  29. Keon Johnson, G, Tennessee (freshman)
  30. Herb Jones, F, Alabama (senior)
  31. Kai Jones, F, Texas (sophomore)
  32. Johnny Juzang, G/F, UCLA (sophomore)
  33. Corey Kispert, F, Gonzaga (senior)
  34. Jonathan Kuminga, F, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  35. Scottie Lewis, G, Florida (sophomore)
  36. Isaiah Livers, F, Michigan (senior)
  37. Makur Maker, C, Howard (freshman)
  38. Sandro Mamukelashvili, F/C, Seton Hall (senior)
  39. Tre Mann, G, Florida (sophomore)
  40. Matthew Mayer, G/F, Baylor (junior)
  41. Miles McBride, G, West Virginia (sophomore)
  42. Davion Mitchell, G, Baylor (junior)
  43. Evan Mobley, F/C, USC (freshman)
  44. Isaiah Mobley, F, USC (sophomore)
  45. Moses Moody, G, Arkansas (freshman)
  46. Trey Murphy III, G, Virginia (junior)
  47. Daishen Nix, G, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  48. John Petty Jr., G, Alabama (senior)
  49. Yves Pons, G/F, Tennessee (senior)
  50. Jason Preston, G, Ohio (junior)
  51. Joshua Primo, G, Alabama (freshman)
  52. Roko Prkacin, F, Croatia (born 2002)
  53. Neemias Queta, C, Utah State (junior)
  54. Austin Reaves, G, Oklahoma (senior)
  55. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, F, Villanova (sophomore)
  56. Terrence Shannon Jr., G/F, Texas Tech (sophomore)
  57. Day’Ron Sharpe, F/C, North Carolina (freshman)
  58. Jericho Sims, F/C, Texas (senior)
  59. Jaden Springer, G, Tennessee (freshman)
  60. DJ Steward, G, Duke (freshman)
  61. Cameron Thomas, G, LSU (freshman)
  62. JT Thor, F, Auburn (freshman)
  63. Isaiah Todd, F, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  64. Trendon Watford, F, LSU (sophomore)
  65. Joe Wieskamp, G/F, Iowa (junior)
  66. Ziaire Williams, F, Stanford (freshman)
  67. McKinley Wright IV, G, Colorado (senior)
  68. Moses Wright, F, Georgia Tech (senior)
  69. Marcus Zegarowski, G, Creighton (junior)

Draft Notes: McClung, Tiebreakers, Seniors, Mballa

Texas Tech guard Mac McClung has hired an agent and will remain in the draft, Jonathan Givony of ESPN reports.

McClung decided to test the draft waters last month while concurrently placing his name in the transfer portal. He averaged 15.5 PPG, 2.7 RPG and 2.1 APG for the Red Raiders. McClung, who spent two seasons at Georgetown, had two years of eligibility remaining.

He’s signing with Dan Poneman of Beyond Athlete Management but he has an uphill climb to get drafted. He’s not currently listed among ESPN’s Top 100 Best Available players.

“I just felt the timing was right for me to go all-in,” McClung said.

We have more draft news:

  • The coin flips to determine the tiebreakers in this year’s draft order will be conducted next Tuesday, Givony tweets. Those flips include the Cavaliers and Thunder for the fourth and fifth spots; the Magic, Pelicans and Kings for the Nos. 8-10 spots; the Hornets and Spurs at No. 11, if both lose their play-in games or make the playoffs; the Wizards and Pacers at No. 13, if both miss or make the playoffs; the Knicks and Hawks for spots No. 19 and 20; the Rockets, Lakers and Knicks for Nos. 21-23; and the Clippers and Nuggets for the 25th and 26th positions. For more info on the lottery standings and draft order, check out our comprehensive breakdown here.
  • Approximately 100 college seniors have filed as early-entry candidates, Givony writes in a separate story. The “preliminary early-entry list” includes only college seniors, allowing NBA teams an extra two weeks to conduct due diligence on that group of players. The list includes some high-profile playes such as Iowa’s Luka Garza, Gonzaga’s Corey Kispert, Oregon’s Chris Duarte, Oklahoma’s Austin Reaves and Loyola Chicago’s Cameron Krutwig, Givony adds. The full early-entry list will be released at the beginning of next month.
  • University of Buffalo forward Josh Mballa has declared his intention to test the draft waters while maintaining his college eligibility, according to a school press release. Mballa was named the Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Year while finishing second on the team in scoring at 15.3 PPG and leading the Bulls in rebounding at 10.8 RPG.