Team USA downfall proves Spurs' controversial decision was 100% correct

San Antonio may have dodged a bullet by not doling out a lofty payday to a player who had a hand in the United States falling short at the FIBA World Cup.

USA v Canada: 3rd Place Game - FIBA Basketball World Cup
USA v Canada: 3rd Place Game - FIBA Basketball World Cup / Yong Teck Lim/GettyImages

If you have been active in any San Antonio Spurs discourse this summer, it is almost a guarantee the name Austin Reaves has come up a couple of times. After the basketball gods blessed the franchise with an extraterrestrial in the NBA Draft, fans and analysts called for the front office to make a splash in free agency. 

The common thought around the fanbase was that drafting Victor Wembanyama reset the timeline in Alamo City. Pre-Wemby, there was still plenty for the Spurs to work on, but post? Wins should happen quickly, and wins should happen often.

Those who clamored for a big free agency move from San Antonio circled Reaves pretty early, as he was a young player who A.) fit the timeline, and B.) filled their need for creator who provides spacing. Even famed blogger Bill Simmons campaigned for the Spurs to give AR-15 a max offer somewhere in the range of four years and $100 million.

Austin Reaves is a solid player. He’s a great success story, going from an undrafted free agent to the third option on the Lakers behind LeBron James and Anthony Davis. However, the recent FIBA World Cup might have exposed a glaring hole in his game. While he continued to show his offensive growth, teams targeted Austin relentlessly on defense.

Reaves came up short on the defensive end on the most important possession of the tournament for Team USA, and these blunders happened a lot. Look up “Austin Reaves defense” on X, and your next half hour will be full of poor positioning and green lights to the rim.

Team USA losing in the semifinal to Germany and Canada in the third-place game was so humiliating that reports surfaced Monday about LeBron forming a superteam of "American Avengers" to redeem the Red, White, and Blue at the 2024 Summer Olympics.

Reaves was not the sole reason for this embarrassing finish at the FIBA World Cup, but his defense made him unplayable against several opponents. That sort of effort won't fly on a team coached by Gregg Popovich, which hopes for a return to the elite Spurs defenses of the past.

Why don't we revisit the belief that San Antonio needs to be winning soon? Not everyone has that mindset, but with a once-in-a-lifetime talent like Vic, the organization should thoroughly vet every small decision. You don’t have to look very far to see an example of a fellow Texas team that rushed their timeline and is now in potential danger of losing their future Hall of Famer.

This article should offer context to a discussion that has continued among certain circles of Spurs Nation. Some people engaged in this conversation have tried to argue that San Antonio is already failing Wemby, a ludicrous sentiment that doesn't even deserve a response.

On Reaves, I’d bet Bill Simmons has been feeling dumber every minute since the FIBA World Cup ended in disappointment for the United States. No, Austin Reaves is not the second coming, and that’s okay! He’s still an impactful player, but it was also smart of the Spurs not to sign him for $100 million this offseason.