This is basic due diligence.
The Lakers have the No. 2 pick in the upcoming NBA draft, and the sense around the league is they will take Lonzo Ball out of UCLA. He’s a point guard with elite court vision and passing skills, a player who some scouts see with star potential.
He also comes with an attention seeking, loud-mouthed father, LaVar (who pictures himself a marketing genius pushing his Big Baller Brand). Yet the dad wasn’t much of a distraction during the UCLA season, it was only near the end and through the draft process when FS1/ESPN decided to milk LaVar for all the over-the-top storylines they could that he became an issue.
So what did UCLA do right? The Lakers are going to talk to Bruins coach Steve Allford, according to Lakers’ coach Luke Walton on the Dan Patrick Show (see the video above).
“I wouldn’t personally, but yes, somebody in our organization will, absolutely.”
It’s become news because Walton said it on a national radio show, but every team thinking about drafting Ball is doing this. It’s basic due diligence.
Reportedly Alford and UCLA laid down ground rules for LaVar — he couldn’t come to practice, he couldn’t call Alford and complain, and more — and he followed them. He was not a problem.
Teams are not worried anyway, with a sense that peer pressure will take of any problems. If LaVar goes off on his son’s teammates, you can bet the rookie Lonzo will pay the price. It will not be long before Lonzo tells his dad to cool it. Luke Walton himself understands the dynamic — he came into the league on a veteran-heavy Lakers team while his father, Bill, was an outspoken broadcaster who blasted players. Veterans told Luke up front he would pay the price for his father’s words (not that it shut Bill up, I mean, you’ve heard him).
How good Ball can be, and if the Lakers can develop him, are different questions. But LaVar is not going to impact whether the Lakers take Lonzo or not.