Austin talks about how the Lakers can get back into championship contention and his introduction to the American Century Golf Tournament.

Third-year man Austin Reaves is a key part of the Los Angeles Lakers’ future.

The 6-foot-5 shooting guard is coming off his best season to date as he solidifies himself as the Lakers’ third option behind star duo LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The 26-year-old averaged 15.9 points, 5.5 assists and 4.3 assists per game while starting 57 of the team’s 82 games — all career highs.

However, the Lakers struggled to replicate the previous year’s postseason success, as they were eliminated in the first round by the Denver Nuggets for the second year in a row. Last season, the Lakers pulled off upsets over the No. 2 seed Memphis Grizzlies and defending champion Golden State Warriors before falling to the Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals.

Speaking to reporters on a Zoom call in anticipation of his debut at the 35th annual American Century Golf Championship this July, I asked Reaves what the Lakers need to do to return to being an annual championship contender. The young guard emphasized that developing an organization built around the star pairing of James and Davis is key.

Reaves pointed out how top teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder, Minnesota Timberwolves, Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks have built systems around their young star players.

„That’s a tough question because it’s a tough league,” Reaves said. „A lot of teams are growing, you have OKC, Minnesota and obviously the two remaining teams, young teams that have been together for a while and learned to play in a system around each other. I feel like you need that in any sport you play, basically consistency in a system and what we have. Building on that, obviously Bronn and AD are a very good duo, but basically building a system around those two helps them with what they need and then play around them.

The Lakers will be looking for a new head coach after firing Darwin Hamm after two seasons. That means Los Angeles will be looking for its third head coach in two years after parting ways with Frank Vogel after the 2021-22 season.

At the moment, former NBA shooting guard and current ESPN analyst JJ Redick appears to be the favorite for the job. Redick has a close relationship with James, with whom he hosts a podcast.

Redick obviously had a long career in the NBA — he played 15 seasons as a key role player on most of those teams — and he had no coaching experience.

via Jason Owens of Yahoo Sports:

„Charania cited evidence that the Lakers were 'gravitated’ to Redick during their coaching search,” Owens writes. „During its search, the franchise has been consulting with former Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who coached Redick during his four years at Durham.”

The Lakers also interviewed former Charlotte Hornets head coach and former San Antonio Spurs and Orlando Magic assistant coach James Borrego.

Reaves obviously won’t have a hand in who the Lakers choose to be their next head coach, but he wants someone who will come to work „every day” as the franchise tries to win its 18th championship.

„I think we’re going in the right direction, and obviously a coaching change is coming,” Reeves says. „I don’t know when they’re going to hire a coach, so I’m with you on that news. But hopefully we’ll get someone who comes to work every day in a way that we’re ready to win a championship.

As the Lakers search for a new head coach, Reaves will be busy this offseason as he shows off his golf game. The Arkansas native has been busy on the golf course since the Lakers’ season ended last month. He recently tried to qualify for an event at the Korn Ferry Tour in Knoxville, Tennessee. However, he shot a 76 and missed the cut by 11 strokes.

Speaking to reporters on a Zoom call, Reeves was actually on the golf course with his best friend in St. Louis, Missouri, while getting in some reps. The 26-year-old is hoping for a different result when he competes. 80 other athletes/celebrities at the US Century Golf Championship between July 10 and 14 at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course in Stateline, Nevada.

The field also includes NFL legend Steve Young, Carolina Panthers wide receiver Adam Thielen and countless others such as John Elway, Aaron Rodgers, Josh Allen and Jerry Rice.

Participants will receive $750,000 in prize money and a $150,000 first prize. The tournament has raised nearly $8 million for charities.

Reaves – who considers himself the best golfer in the NBA – expressed how „excited” he was to make his debut in a prestigious tournament.

„I was really excited,” Reeves said of getting the call. „Like I said, my passion for golf is, if I’m not playing basketball, I’m 90% playing golf. When I got that invitation, it’s special because I’ve been focusing on it for the last two or three years. Like I said, it’s special.

Although Reeves will obviously match up with more experienced guys in the tournament, he insists he’s going in with the mindset to play „some good golf.”

„I’m just going to play as well as I can and whatever happens after that happens,” says Reaves. „I hope a lot of people play a lot of good golf and I play some good golf.”

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