Despite the Los Angeles Lakers trading away their 22nd pick in the NBA Draft for Russell Westbrook and not having a second-round pick, they still managed to come away with fresh new talent. They obtained two players in Austin Reaves and Joel Ayayi by signing them to two-way contracts this upcoming season. In an era where players are finding new options to get in the NBA, Reaves and Ayayi decided to control their own destiny by foregoing the draft altogether.
Reaves signed with the Lakers on a two-way deal following the draft. Sources told The Athletic that Reaves turned down the ability to get drafted in order to pick his own spot after the draft. Ultimately, the Lakers were the most attractive option, and it’s easy to see why. Not only are they a contender, but they have a ton of open roster spots following the Russell Westbrook trade, and guys who enter the summer on a two-way are actually somewhat well-positioned to have a shot to make the roster due to luxury-tax concerns. I think my bold prediction is Reaves is on a full contract by midseason.
Similarly to Reaves above, Ayayi turned down offers to be drafted in order to skate through the draft and choose his spot. And similarly to Reaves again, he chose the Lakers. Yeah, the Lakers did well by not even having a pick.
Reaves and Ayayi were ranked by ESPN as the second and third-ranked undrafted players available. They’ll both replace Devontae Cacok and Kostas Antetokounmpo, who no longer fill those roles after two years with the team.