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    Steve Kerr sees Lakers’ Austin Reaves as one of NBA’s ‘rising young players’
    • July 8, 2023

    LAS VEGAS — For Steve Kerr, the Golden State Warriors and Team USA head coach, the decision to add Lakers guard Austin Reaves to the 12-player roster for the upcoming FIBA World Cup was a simple one.

    Kerr got a close-up look at Reaves’ impact during their second-round playoff series this spring when the Lakers eliminated the Warriors in six games.

    “For me, after watching him kick our butt for six straight games in the Western Conference [semifinals], it was a pretty easy choice,” Kerr quipped during a Zoom call with reporters Friday.

    The honor is the latest accomplishment during a meteoric rise for Reaves, who re-signed with the Lakers on Thursday on a four-year, $56 million contract.

    “Austin is one of the rising young players in this league,” Kerr said. “What you look for in FIBA is versatility. You want size defensively, the ability to switch and guard multiple positions and you want playmaking. You want guys who can make shots but also put the ball on the floor and are good passers. Austin is just, to me, he’s a basketball player. He’s a guy who impacts winning at a really high level.”

    Reaves is coming off a breakout season in which he averaged 13 points, 3.4 assists and 3 rebounds in 28.8 minutes (64 games with 22 starts).

    He stepped up in the postseason as the team’s third-leading scorer, averaging 16.9 points, 4.6 assists and 4.4 rebounds in 36.2 minutes (16 games, all starts) during the Lakers’ run to the conference finals.

    The 25-year-old, who went undrafted out of Oklahoma in 2021, originally signed a two-way contract with the Lakers in August 2021 before signing a standard two-year NBA deal the following month ahead of the 2021-22 season.

    Two years later, he’ll represent the U.S. on one of the biggest stages for international basketball.

    “When you look at his story and see how he has kind of busted down the door and created an opportunity for himself on the NBA stage, there’s a real toughness that goes with that feel, shooting, playmaking and everything Steve alluded to,” said Grant Hill, the managing director of Team USA. “That mental, physical toughness that he’s shown, in addition to everything else Steve said, will certainly be an added bonus. [He’s] unafraid, but also a guy who has an incredible IQ and feel for how to play. Looking forward to seeing him with the rest of the team.”

    Team USA will open first-round play against New Zealand on Aug. 26, with matchups against Greece (Aug. 28) and Jordan (Aug. 30) to round out the first round of the group play phase. They’ll play all of their group games at Manila’s Mall of Asia Arena.


    The Lakers made their final known free agency move official on Friday, announcing the re-signing of guard D’Angelo Russell.

    The team made most of their free agency moves official on Thursday, announcing the re-signing of guard Reaves and forward Rui Hachimura and the signings of guard Gabe Vincent, forwards Taurean Prince and Cam Reddish and center Jaxson Hayes.

    While the Lakers didn’t reveal the terms of Russell’s contract, a source told the Southern California News Group last Saturday that Russell and the team agreed to terms on a two-year, $37 million deal.

    Russell’s contract will have a player option for the 2024-25 season, a source added.

    The Lakers acquired Russell from the Minnesota Timberwolves ahead of the Feb. 9 trade deadline. He averaged 17.4 points (48.4% shooting – 55.5% on 2-point attempts, 41.4% from 3-point range) and 6.1 assists in 17 regular-season games (all starts) for the Lakers.

    He was the team’s starting point guard for 15 of their 16 playoff games, but his statistics dipped in the postseason when he averaged 13.3 points (42.6% shooting – 51.9% on 2-point attempts, 31% from 3-point range) and 4.6 assists. He struggled especially against the Denver Nuggets in the conference finals, averaging 6.8 points on 32.2% shooting in the series and losing his starting spot for the decisive Game 4.

    Russell, who also played for the Lakers from 2015-17 after they selected him second overall in the 2015 draft, has career averages of 17.7 points (36.2% 3-point shooting on 6.9 attempts), 5.7 assists and 3.5 rebounds. He’s also played for the Brooklyn Nets (2017-19), Golden State Warriors (2019-20) and Timberwolves (2020-23).

    ​ Orange County Register