As a 13-year-old in 2012, Austin Reaves was a huge Kobe Bryant fan. So much so that he posted memes ripping a 27-year-old LeBron James for not winning an NBA title.
During the 2011-12 season, before James led the Miami Heat to an NBA championship, Reaves posted a meme on Facebook that read: “When I need some peace and quiet, I set my phone to LeBron mode, no ring.
Bryant shrugged in the caption.
The Oklahoma product is now teammates with James on the Los Angeles Lakers, and the two have a strong bond, although Reaves quickly confessed his old Facebook posts ripping James.
According to Melissa Rohlin of Fox Sports, Reaves told Bron, “Look, I sucked on you back in 2012. I was a Kobe fan.” James laughed it off.
After just two seasons with the Lakers, Reaves has flourished under one of the greatest players of all time.
“If it gets to that $60M-$70M range for Austin Reaves, that’s a tough contract for the Lakers to match… he wants to give the Lakers every opportunity to try to get a deal done”@ShamsCharania with his biggest takeaway from convo with Austin Reaves #RunItBack #LakeShow pic.twitter.com/x47DboyKGG
— FanDuel TV (@FanDuelTV) April 11, 2023
During the regular season, the 24-year-old averaged 13.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 3.4 assists while shooting 52.9 percent from the field and 39.8 percent from deep.
He stepped up in a big way when James was sidelined with an injury during February and March and is now lighting it up alongside James in the postseason. Over the past 10 playoff games, he has scored 14.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.1 assists, helping the Lakers get within a win of the Western Conference Finals.
Spotrac reports that Reaves will become a restricted free agent after the postseason with a qualifying offer worth $2.2 million. However, he’s expected to receive an even more lucrative deal in free agency. In March, Shams Charania reported that Reaves was “increasingly looking like his marketplace” for a four-year, $50 million deal.
Los Angeles Lakers guard Austin Reaves sits down with @Stadium: “I want to be a Laker, so hopefully we can get this done and I can stay there for hopefully my whole career.” On upcoming free agency, a special 2021 training camp moment, surprising his opponents, much more: pic.twitter.com/sa83nlnatT
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 10, 2023
“Other teams could offer him a poison-pill offer sheet … but the Lakers can match that since he is a restricted free agent,” Charania said.
In April, Charania reported that the Lakers would have difficulty matching a $60- to $70-million contract offer for Reaves this summer. They can only offer him $41 million over four years.
In March, Jovan Buha of The Athletic reported that Reaves and the Lakers were interested in extending his contract. The shooting guard later told Charnia that he wanted to spend his entire career with the team.
A laker is my dream, Reaves said. “Obviously, they gave me the first chance.” I was a huge Laker fan growing up, a big Kobe [Bryant] fan, so honestly, to be able to play for the Lakers organization is special, and I want to be a Laker, so hopefully we can accomplish this and I can stay there for my entire career.”
Austin Reaves posting this on Facebook in 2012 and now LeBron is his teammate 😅 pic.twitter.com/wdIZ8zT6Nk
— PointsBet Sportsbook (@PointsBetUSA) March 13, 2023
The Lakers should do everything in their power to keep Reaves in L.A. for 2023-24 and beyond, considering his passion for the Purple and Gold.
Reaves will also continue to learn from James if the franchise retains him, which will only benefit his career.