Austin Reaves’ whirlwind tour over the last few months has ended with him in something of an unexpected position: getting benched.
On Friday, L.A. opted to relegate Reaves to the bench in favor of Cam Reddish. Yes, that Cam Reddish.
For what it’s worth, Reddish more than made up for his disastrous game-winner attempt one game prior by hitting a clutch shot that sealed the Lakers’ win over the Phoenix Suns on Friday.
Reaves, for his part, also seemed to be better coming off the bench. He finished with 15 points and seven assists in 35 minutes of action. He actually wound up playing seven more minutes than Reddish despite not starting.
Afterward, Reaves spoke bluntly and honestly about the coaching staff’s decision to bench him.
“For me, I’m a competitor,” Reaves said.
“Truthfully, you don’t want to have that conversation. Would love to have been playing better to not have those conversations … But my parents taught me at a young age that the coach is the coach. And his decision, regardless if you agree with it, don’t agree with it, you respect that. That’s what I did.
“We had good dialogue back and forth on what we thought we could do to be better as a unit. And, for me — as I’ve spoken about the last two years in the NBA and even before that — winning is the main thing.”
Reaves could also – sort of — admit that his ineffectiveness on the court called for a change.
“I’ve seen the writing on the wall,” he said.
“I kinda seen it coming. I haven’t played great. I’ve had games here and there. And then as a team we haven’t played great on this road trip. We were 0-3 until now. Needed to shake things up.
“But, to me, I respect the fact that he texted me and we had a conversation about it, seeing eye-to-eye. Whatever it is that both of us can do to help the team be successful is what we want to do, and what I’m willing to do.”
Reaves definitely did his best to take the change in stride, but obviously his soul was mildly crushed. It is tough to go from being an international superstar and partying nonstop with your girlfriend to abruptly getting benched.
While Reaves clearly took the move as a demotion, Lakers head coach Darvin Ham tried to sell it as something else.
“We had to change up the music a little bit,” he said.
“First and foremost, it wasn’t a demotion for Austin. It was just a realignment. If anybody remembers those great San Antonio teams, where, everybody in the world knew Manu was a starter.
“But, sometimes, to balance out your lineup, you have to put a player of his magnitude in a reserve role. So, now when the starters go to sit down and take their break, you’re not totally falling off a cliff. You have balance in the second unit.”
Mystery FSU Fan At Miami Football Game Identified (Photos): https://t.co/TGlzYIkkrq
— Game 7 (@game7__) November 12, 2023
It will be interesting to see how this little experiment ultimately works out for L.A.
Is benching Reaves and promoting Reddish going to be the move that puts the Lakers over the top this year? Time will tell.
A longtime sports reporter, Carlos Garcia has written about some of the biggest and most notable athletic events of the last 5 years. He has been credentialed to cover MLS, NBA and MLB games all over the United States. His work has been published on Fox Sports, Bleacher Report, AOL and the Washington Post.