One of the most significant events of the entire NBA season could take place when the Lakers take on the Oklahoma City Thunder in Los Angeles on Tuesday, as Austin Reaves said at practice on Monday that he will likely return to the team’s lineup for that matchup.
What, did you think I was talking about something else?
Austin Reaves said he “feels great”, and expects to be probable to play tomorrow vs. OKC after missing the last month and change with a hamstring injury.— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) February 6, 2023
Later in the evening, the Lakers confirmed Austin’s report on his own hamstring, listing him as probable on the injury report.
Getting Reaves back would certainly be great news for the purple and gold, and this positive update was mostly expected after head coach Darvin Ham said this weekend that the second-year guard would likely return this week.
When he returns, Reaves will rejoin an already crowded Lakers backcourt, and given that he is returning from several weeks off and was dealing with a hamstring injury, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the team place him on a minutes restriction, at least initially, in order to try and keep the perpetually hustling 24-year-old from reinjuring himself.
And while it’s not quite the level of talent infusion most fans are hoping for the week of the NBA trade deadline, getting Reaves back will certainly help this group, as when he’s played this season he’s had an argument for being anywhere from the team’s third-to-fifth best player, on balance. The Lakers went 8-8 in the 16 games he missed, and getting back a player the team has been 5.8 points per 100 possessions with better on the floor than off — one of the bigger differentials on the team, per NBA.com — should help the team in crunch time in the types of chaotic, tight games they’ve seemingly been in nightly.
Or, hopefully, having another useful player in the rotation will help them avoid things coming down to the wire so often altogether.
The Lakers and Thunder will tip off in Los Angeles at 7 p.m. PT in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
Stay tuned to Silver Screen and Roll for more updates on Reaves’ status closer to gametime, and for all the latest heading into the NBA trade deadline, check out our Silver Screen and Roll Lakers trade rumors tracker.