Now that the Los Angeles Lakers secured the second pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, everyone expects them to select UCLA’s Lonzo Ball when they are finally on the clock. But after his father, LaVar Ball’s blowup on “The Herd” Wednesday afternoon it’s time to seriously assess whether Lonzo is worth the headache his dad is sure to bring.
What LaVar Ball did to Kristine Leahy on Wednesday was wildly disrespectful. Things have been said on both sides, but refusing to acknowledge or even look at her crossed a line. He was a guest on her show and he acted like she wasn’t even there. Then he offered up a thinly-veiled threat in her direction. It was ridiculous and something that no one should be defending.
Ball also claimed his brand didn’t need to market to women while openly disrespecting one. Just in case you’d forgotten, the Lakers are owned by a woman, Jeanie Buss. I’m fairly certain that after making a power move to shove her brother out of the franchise, she’s not going to put up with any of LaVar’s nonsense for even a hot second.
On the basketball side of things, the Lakers are in the middle of a massive rebuild where the goal is to have their young core grow as a group. Head coach Luke Walton’s system relies heavily on everyone buying in, a sense of equality among the roster and selfless basketball. Lonzo is certainly capable of being a selfless basketball player on the court and getting everyone on the same page. But his father’s antics off the court could be damaging to a young group that’s trying to develop.
It’s easy to picture LaVar taking to their airwaves and going after Walton if he wound up benching Lonzo for any reason. It’s a disaster when the parent of a player goes after a high school coach, imagine how awful it would be at the NBA level. Do we really think Lakers president Magic Johnson is going to be fine with LaVar dominating the conversation about the franchise nationally?
The Lakers have other options. Guys like Kansas’ Josh Jackson, Kentucky’s De'Aaron Fox and Duke’s Jayson Tatum will almost certainly be on the board at No. 2. If the Balls are going to be a huge headache, any of those three players could provide solid value on the court and fewer headaches off it.
I’m not saying the Lakers should pass on Ball for another player. But we’re at the point where someone, either Lonzo or his potential future team need to step up and tell LaVar to back off. NBA teams don’t want to be putting out fires constantly and if their bottom line is going to be impacted, they will opt out of taking a player.