The Los Angeles Lakers filled out their 14th and final roster spot (at least for now) on Sunday by signing 23-year-old rookie Austin Reaves to a two-year contract. Reaves was previously on a two-way contract with the Lakers.
Coming out of this year’s draft, Reaves was widely-regarded as one of the best undrafted free agents, and he showed why during Summer League in Sacramento and Las Vegas. But according to a report from The Athletic, it was Reaves’ second stint in Sin City that may have earned him a full-time spot on the roster:
On Sunday, the Lakers reached agreement on a two-year deal with guard Austin Reaves, converting his two-way contract to a standard NBA deal ahead of training camp. The Lakers will have a team option on the second year of Reaves‘ contract, sources said. Reaves, a 6-foot-5 combo guard, has impressed the Lakers throughout the offseason and had a strong showing at James’ minicamp. James and Westbrook even had the rookie conduct some fun-loving errands throughout the weekend in Vegas.
It’s unlikely that Reaves will see regular minutes in a backcourt rotation that already features the likes of Russell Westbrook, Talen Horton-Tucker, Kent Bazemore, Wayne Ellington, Kendrick Nunn, Malik Monk and Rajon Rondo, but it’s safe to assume that message was relayed to Reaves when he signed his deal with the Lakers. If nothing else, he knows that he has the support of the front office.
In lieu of NBA minutes, Reaves will likely spend most of the season on assignment with the Lakers’ G League affiliate, the South Bay Lakers, alongside Joel Ayayi and whichever player is awarded the now-vacant, second two-way slot. I’d guess that Chaundee Brown is a strong candidate after his impressive Summer League, but with how guard-heavy the team is already, they may decide to go in a different direction.
Reaves is a bit old for a rookie and looks like he’s a few years away from being able to contribute at the NBA level, but this method of signing undrafted free agents and developing them through the G League is proven for the Lakers — hopefully Reaves is the latest success story, and not a blip in their recent history.