During free agency this summer, Austin Reaves received life-changing money. No matter how the rest of his career plays out, he’ll be set financially. He can golf whenever he wants, buy whatever golf clubs he desires and take them to any course in the country.
What he won’t be doing, though, is changing how he dresses.
Anyone who has seen the pictures or videos of players entering the arena will know Reaves is not quite the rest of the league. While many players use that as a chance to show off outfits and designers and their fashion sense, Austin Reaves...does not.
To say the least, he’s the outlier when it comes to fashion in the NBA. And those around the Lakers have taken notice.
In a tremendous profile of Reaves published on Tuesday, Mirin Fader of The Ringer shared an anecdote of assistant coach Phil Handy trying to encourage Reaves to hire a stylist.
The money, however, hasn’t changed Reaves. “I’m still going to play the same way,” Reaves says. “Nothing’s going to change that, but I don’t have to always have the thought in the back of my mind, ‘If I don’t go play the best game ever, anything can happen.’”
Off the court, he’s still the same person, always in sweatpants and a hoodie (Handy asked him whether he could hook him up with some stylists who were interested; Reaves answered simply: “Hell no.”)
The whole piece is well worth the read. Handy comes away from it as the star of the article, including him making sure everyone knows Reaves’ success is not a fluke.
“People are going to look at Austin and say, ‘Oh, man. This white kid got paid,’” Handy says. “I think he’s just out to prove that, ‘Look, whatever paycheck I got, I earned this contract.’ And he did.”
“This is not a fluke,” Handy says. “It’s all about just continuing to show people that he wasn’t a one-trick pony. That he’s here to stay.”
He also wanted to make sure Reaves knew that the bag he got from the Lakers should simply be his starter bag before the real bag.
But Handy has reminded Reaves that if he continues to prove himself, his life would change even more. He has the potential to make even more money in the future. Handy told Reaves’s agents: “Look, I think this bag that you got, this is what we call a little bag. Now it’s time for you to go get a big bag.”
Reaves is one of the latest players — as well as one of the more notable — to develop into a star under Handy. While he’s expressed interest in becoming a head coach and may eventually become one, Handy’s long built a reputation as one of the best assistant coaches in the league, specifically in terms of player development.
And that extends to helping guys off the court with their wardrobe as well. Or at least attempting to. Maybe with that big bag down the line, Reaves will start dressing like Kyle Kuzma.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.