Lakers training camp: Austin Reaves motivated by Denver Nuggets rematch on opening night

Mary Raleigh

Austin Reaves is already eyeing the Denver Nuggets and more from the first day of Los Angeles Lakers training camp.

The 2023-24 Los Angeles Lakers gathered for their first official practice of training camp on Tuesday at the UCLA Health Training Center in El Segundo.

The Lakers did a “fair amount” of scrimmaging, per Darvin Ham. They conducted transition and defensive drills, and “competitive” 1-on-1 work, among other activities. Ham was pleased at the “tenacity,” “athleticism,” and “speed” on display, as well as his team’s “focus.”

“The overall spirit in the building is just phenomenal.”

Camp report: Austin Reaves

Physically, Reaves isn’t quite ready for NBA basketball. Mentally, though, he’s primed for opening night.

Reave,  who finished FIBA World Cup play on Sept. 10, is being eased back into action by the Lakers. He briefly scrimmaged on Tuesday before hopping around to various stations.

“Yeah, that’s the plan,” said Reaves. “I took the last couple weeks, not off, but I had a good time relaxing a little bit. I’m ready to get back to work now, but there’s some stuff we gotta build up to. But, we’ll build up to that and whatever they decide to do preseason-wise, is what I’ll do.”

“He participated in a good part of practice but obviously there’s things we have to be careful of,” added Ham.

Reaves acknowledged that Oct. 24’s showdown with the Denver Nuggets — Ring Night at Ball Arena — presents a timely opportunity for the Lakers to begin exacting revenge.

“Anytime you get the schedule, for me at least, I look at the first couple games and the Christmas game. Obviously, was happy to see Denver as the first game. It’s a big night for them, as it should be. … They played a hell of a series against us and then won in the Finals against Miami, so you tip your hat. But, at the end of the day, if we can go win that first game on their ring night — obviously not spoil their day — but start off their season in a good way.”

The Lakers took umbrage with the tenor of the Nuggets’ boasting during and after the playoffs. Ham and LeBron James addressed it over the summer. On Monday, Anthony Davis said the “noise” — Denver’s chirping — is only adding fuel to the Lakers’ fire.

“It’s very motivational … It was just a lot of like, the talking, and ‘the Lakers dad,’ there was just so much of that going on. It was like, ‘All right, we get it, y’all won.’ But me and Bron had some conversations like, ‘We can’t wait.’ … Anytime you lose it’s motivation to get ready for the next season to try to compete for a championship, so that in itself is motivation. But also all the little talking that’s been going around all summer…”

“I think everybody noticed it was pointed at us. They can do it indirectly if they want. I think it was very obvious to the public eye, that’s why everybody was talking about it. … I play every game the way I’m gonna go play the first game against them, but I think it adds a little bit of motivation to go play really well.”

Of course, one regular-season victory doesn’t redeem a playoff sweep, but it’s the best the Lakers can do, for now.

“I’ve actually thought about it quite a bit,” Reaves said about the conference finals, “cause everybody you talk to brings it up. Going home, the main question was: ‘What could y’all have done to at least win a game?’ Everybody wasn’t happy we got swept. Obviously, we weren’t happy.”

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