The biggest storyline surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers entering this offseason was Austin Reaves’ future as a restricted free agent. Reaves had a fantastic sophomore season and was the third-best player for the team in the NBA Playoffs.
While the Lakers had the ability to match, it seemed like a guarantee that another team would offer Reaves a max offer sheet simply to make Los Angeles pay more. That ultimately didn’t happen, though, and Reaves returned to the team on an exceptionally-valued contract.
Reaves has quickly asserted himself as a fan favorite as he is someone who Lakers fans want to see be a lifetime Laker. After agreeing to a four-year deal this offseason there is a good chance that Reaves will spend most of his NBA career with his favorite team growing up.
All that being said, there was a very real possibility that Reaves never joined the Lakers to begin with. In an appearance on the “All The Smoke” podcast, Reaves explained how he turned down the Detroit Pistons and other teams in the 2021 NBA Draft to go to a team that was better for his career.
That team was ultimately the Lakers but Reaves revealed in the interview that it wasn’t the No. 1 team on his agency’s list. The one team that ranked ahead of the Lakers in preference was the then-defending champion, Milwaukee Bucks.
Austin Reaves preferred the Bucks over the Lakers in the 2021 NBA Draft
Let’s be clear, this had nothing to do with Reaves’ personal feelings on the matter. This all had to do with the teams where he had the best chance of earning a rotation spot and kickstarting his NBA career. He obviously has done that (and then some) in Los Angeles, so there definitely are no regrets from Reaves.
That being said, it is interesting to consider that the Bucks could have had Reaves if they simply made the effort to bring him in. Reaves essentially confirms that he would have joined Milwaukee over Los Angeles if the same situation presented itself and for whatever reason, the Bucks obviously weren’t interested.
What is even worse for Bucks fans is the fact that Milwaukee had the last pick of the 2021 NBA Draft and could have used it to pick Reaves. Instead, the team selected Georgios Kalaitzakis, who played a grand total of 48 minutes in Milwaukee.
The Bucks have to be kicking themselves after hearing Reaves confirm that he preferred to go there. Meanwhile, Lakers fans should be thanking Milwaukee for the serious oversight.