Lakers’ Austin Reaves Talks Player Recruiting on Team USA: ‘I Would Never’

Austin Reaves, Lakers guard, at the World Cup

Getty Austin Reaves, Lakers guard, at the World Cup

One of the concerns GMs and team owners have when their star players get involved in international competitions with Team USA is the way that those players then get exposed to the notion of teaming up with other stars. That kind of recruiting has led to many superstar pairings over the years, going back to when LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade hatched the idea to join forces in Miami before the summer of 2010.

Now, the Lakers have a member of Team USA (which lost to Lithuania on Sunday but still will advance to the quarters against Italy) playing in this year’s World Cup—guard Austin Reaves. And this would be a fine time for Reaves to mention to some of his star USA teammates that they should try to figure out how to make their way to the Lakers.

Dan Woike of the L.A. Times asked Reaves this week if he were, in fact, recruiting. “No, no, no,” Reaves said. “Not me. I would never.”

Woike pointed out that players are not allowed to tamper with other players. Reaves concurred: “I say the L.A. weather is good. And that’s it.”

Close Bonds Formed on Team USA

Still, Reaves did tell Woike that he has been surprised by the bonds he has formed in a short period of time at the World Cup. That has been a common experience for many players who join Team USA, whether they do any recruiting or not. Intense practices, being in a foreign country and playing under somewhat different and quirky international rules can brig guys together very quickly.

“I had no idea, to be honest,” Reaves said. “Like I wasn’t going into it like, ‘I’m going to get really close with four, five, six,’ all these guys honestly. Like I told you when we were in Vegas, I really didn’t know what to expect. But, being able to form a relationship with all these guys — it’s not just Kal (Bridges) or just Cam (Johnson), Tyrese (Haliburton).

“Being able to form a relationship with everyone of these guys, the coaches. The amount of time we’re spending together, in a different country, can’t really go out. It’s hectic over here if you try to step foot out of the hotel so you’re kinda stuck in the hotel. You’re always around one another. Just being able to build those relationships, it’s cool to me.”

Reaves Has Been Effective Off USA Bench

Up until the Lithuania loss, Reaves had been among the best players in the FIBA tournament, but he notched just seven points and five personal fouls in 13 minutes in the loss. He struggled defensively, too.

Those numbers sunk his stats to 10.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game, on 52.0% shooting and 46.2% 3-point shooting.

His best game, statistically, had come against Greece in the first round of pool play, when he had 15 points, five rebounds and six assists, plus two steals. He was a plus-19 that day.

And, fortunately, the Americans are still very much alive in the World Cup. Under FIBA’s current tournament format, teams play in two pools before going into the knockout stage. The U.S. will play Italy and, if they get by that game, will land in the semifinals against the winner of Latvia vs. Germany.

Lithuania was the only team to get through the two pools with a perfect 5-0 record.

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