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Austin Reaves is ready to carry the tampering torch for the Lakers

Faced with a big challenge, Austin Reaves has taken the next step this summer with Team USA and is upping his tampering game.

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Team USA in Las Vegas, NV. Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

While LeBron James’ status as the GOAT of basketball is up for some level of debate, his legacy as a tamperer is second to none. No one in the league has tampered like LeBron, who has never turned down an opportunity to recruit.

Teaming up with guys in the Olympics? Let’s join forces in Miami. Drafting a squad for an All-Star Game? Let’s pick every upcoming free agent possible. At every possible opportunity, LeBron would tamper.

But his days as a Laker are coming toward an end. No matter if this is the last year or just one of the final ones, the tampering torch needs to be passed.

Austin Reaves was handed a huge opportunity to showcase his potential as a tamperer this summer when he joined Team USA himself for the FIBA World Cup. We even ranked the teammates he should be targeting.

While the fruits of his labor won’t be known for years to come, Reaves has stepped up to the mark and knows what is expected of him, as he told Jovan Buha of The Athletic in a recent profile.

Reaves has even played into the idea of being a lead recruiter for the Lakers, following a long line of Team USA being the soil for seeding super teams — most famously in 2008 when James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh formed a bond that led them to team up in Miami in 2010.

“I can’t speak on that,” Reaves said, laughing. “But I like some of the guys we’re playing with. So … yeah.”

In the article, it’s mentioned that Reaves has grown closest to Mikan Bridges and Cam Johnson, at least publicly. Honestly, great start from Reaves looking for 3-and-D players to surround himself and Anthony Davis.

But that may not be the only players he’s recruiting. On the court, he and Tyrese Haliburton have played tremendously alongside one another. Maybe his work on the court will go some way in recruiting Haliburton away from Indiana and back to California, a move many people would like to make.

There’s still multiple weeks left in FIBA play, assuming Team USA isn’t dumped in the first round. It’s more time for Reaves to hone his craft and really flex his tampering muscle, one that has been trained at the hand of LeBron James.

You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.

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