If he were to ignore everything happening around him during the 2021-22 season, Los Angeles Lakers sophomore Austin Reaves could have ended up pretty satisfied with his first campaign as a professional basketball player.
Of course, Reaves would have to be a special kind of self-centered narcissist to have any type of long-lasting satisfaction about this past season. Despite the young guard out-performing everyone’s expectations of himself, he was still a part of one of the most disappointing Lakers seasons of all time, much of it stemming from the blockbuster trade that brought the ill-fitting Russell Westbrook to the team.
That terrible fit spawned trade discussions around Westbrook at the 2022 trade deadline, with those trade discussions continuing into this summer. Slowly but surely, those discussions seem to be proving futile as Westbrook may actually be a Laker yet again this season, but we’ll never say “never” here.
Reaves is no dummy, because although he doesn’t have a Twitter and doesn’t even watch SportsCenter, he’s fully aware of the trade rumors surrounding the guy who started at point guard above him this past season.
Here’s what he said regarding his mindset around the entire situation when talking to Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer on the Callin app:
“As far as I’m concerned, he’s on our team and we’re gonna go into the season like that. We’re gonna all come together as one and figure it out. That’s my mindset. I can’t speak for everybody, but like you said it’s Russ, it’s the Lakers. So the magnitude of it is gonna be more, but for me, like I don’t have Twitter. I don’t watch really SportsCenter.”
However, though he doesn’t bury himself in the media’s discussion of trade rumors like, well... the readers and writer of this article do... Reaves is aware of how quickly things can change in the NBA with the people he calls his teammates.
“The crazy thing about the Russ situation like I was with Talen at the Dodgers game, it was actually when I threw out the first pitch. When he got traded, we was actually sitting and talking about it. You know, like we were walking out to the car and we split ways and literally like 10 seconds later, one of my friends sent me the tweet from Woj, and I was like, damn, like, I was literally just with him. But you know, it’s the way of the NBA and the majority of people in the NBA are gonna be in trade talks at some point.”
Reaves seems very sensible with the way he discusses the mountain of rumors surrounding his past, current, and (probably) future teammate in Westbrook. That demeanor most likely comes from his intense focus on getting the work in and improving, a work ethic that has caused his weight to increase from 197 to 209 pounds.
“So I mean, I just prepare the best way that I can prepare. And you know, we’re looking forward to the season.... I don’t know how everybody else handles it. But for me, like I just keep my head down. Stay away from all the bullshit, trade rumors.”
Lakers fans will always look back on the 2021-22 season with intense disgust, however, Reaves continues to show that the campaign wasn’t a complete failure as his value-add isn’t exclusive to what he does on the court. His words regarding the Westbrook situation show he can also be a wise, sensible, and confident voice in the locker room in addition to being a valuable role player outside of it.