If the 2017 NBA Draft was held right now, the Los Angeles Lakers would be passing on Lonzo Ball.
As it became clearer and clearer that Lonzo Ball was going to forego the last three years of his college eligibility to play in the NBA, expectations were high that he would end up with his favorite team – the Lakers. The possibility even became greater when the Lakers won the second overall pick in the lottery.
But now, things aren’t looking too bright for Ball.
Lakers Nation cited a series of tweets by Jordan Schultz indicating that the Lakers are unlikely to take Lonzo with the second pick if the 2017 NBA Draft was held today. Schultz mentioned that a source informed him of the current sentiment within the Lakers organization. He also said that the Lakers are not convinced that Ball is a star.
Schultz went on to say that Lonzo becoming a Laker is “not even close right now.” The Bleacher Report writer also said that Ball needs to convince the Lakers that he is a star for him to realize his dream of playing for the hometown team. He will get that opportunity a few days from now.
Ball is scheduled for an exclusive workout with the Lakers on June 7. Lonzo needs to have a great workout and needs to prove that he has what it takes to take the young Lakers squad to the next level to seal the deal with Los Angeles.
Another factor that the Lakers are concerned about is Lonzo’s father. LaVar Ball is a polarizing figure and despite the attention he gets, the elder Ball may not be the kind of PR Los Angeles is looking for right now. LaVar already made headlines by proclaiming that he was a better baller than Michael Jordan during his prime. Ball also engaged former NBA great and current Inside the NBA basketball analyst Charles Barkley in an ugly word war. Even Jerry West, the beloved former Laker, chimed in and said that he wouldn’t want to have a father like LaVar Ball.
On the other hand, Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson likened LaVar to Keeping Up With the Kardashians star Kris Jenner. Magic supposedly has no problems with Lonzo’s dad and that he believes the elder Ball is simply bragging about how great a player his son is the same way Jenner is promoting her daughters.
Lakers coach Luke Walton has also indicated that Lonzo’s father will not be an issue for him. Walton mentioned that his own father, former NBA MVP Bill, has a huge personality, so dealing with the boisterous LaVar is nothing new for him.
Many consider Lonzo Ball and the Lakers as a match made in heaven. The 19-year-old point guard was born in Anaheim and played high school ball in Chino Hills where he averaged 23.9 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 11.7 assists per game as a senior on his way to being named the Naismith Prep Player of the Year and Mr. Basketball USA. He then took his talent to UCLA where, as a freshman, he led the No. 3 seed Bruins to the NCAA Tournament but only reached the Sweet 16 after they were eliminated by Kentucky. Coincidentally, Wildcats lead guard De’Aaron Fox scored 39 points against Ball’s 10 points who, to be fair, was playing hurt during the second half of the game.
With the NBA Draft less than three weeks away, anything can still happen. There have been rumors that the Lakers are also interested in players other than Ball. In fact, reports have come in that the Lakers “love” Fox and are considering him for the No. 2 spot in the NBA Draft. Kansas all-around forward Josh Jackson has also been rumored as a possible target of the Lakers.
The Lakers management, including Magic Johnson, General Manager Rob Pelinka, Assistant GM Ryan West and South Bay Lakers GM Nick Mazella were on hand to watch Fox and a couple of other promising talents at the 2017 NBA Draft prospects workout at the Catalyst Sports’ Pro Day. Also at the venue were Joey and Jesse Buss, youngest sons of the late Jerry Buss.
With such Lakers personalities attending the workout, it’s easy to see why some are speculating that the team is indeed interested in Fox and will likely take him over Lonzo Ball should the NBA Draft be held today. This may not sit well with LaVar Ball.
[Featured Image by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images]