Report: NBA executives mostly say LaVar Ball won’t impact Lonzo Ball’s draft stock

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Lonzo Ball is leading UCLA in the NCAA tournament.

Meanwhile, his dad, LaVar Ball, keeps saying ridiculous things. The latest: Lonzo Ball is better than LeBron James and Russell Westbrook.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr said LaVar Ball is making it harder on his kids, but Golden State has no chance of drafting LaVar Ball, who could go No. 1. So, Kerr’s personal opinion holds limited relevance.

What’s the league-wide consensus on the Balls?

Sam Amick of USA Today:

For all the recent focus on LaVar and his one-man media tour – the endless string of interviews full of cocky claims and premature promises, coupled with insults at everyone from Stephen Curry to Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan – the  consensus among front office executives who discussed the matter with USA TODAY Sports this week was that his draft stock won’t be harmed by his father’s controversial style. As one general manager put it, and many other executives confirmed in various forms when consulted on the matter, “No one’s paying attention to Ball’s father.”

Among the dozen executives who were contacted, only two expressed any belief that LaVar’s ways could negatively impact Lonzo’s draft standing. As one of them noted, the LaVar factor could come into play if a team is torn between him and another prospect when the draft buzzer is about to ring.

“That could be the thing that tilts the balance,” he said.

A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England:

While not speaking about the Ball family specifically, the Celtics appear to be open to the idea of selecting him.

“I would never hold a player’s family against a player if I like a player,” Ainge said on 98.5 the Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show. “I don’t see too much distractions with parents that are in the media. Usually the players are pretty good and the teams are pretty good.”

You think LaVar Ball would be the first parent of an NBA player who presents difficulties? Hardly. Teams deal with this sometimes.

LaVar Ball is different, because his influence is being heard so publicly. But teams are equipped to handle minor family difficulties, and it seems that’s what this is. LaVar Ball is clearly going out of his way to generate publicity with outrageous claims. That doesn’t mean he’s such a wildcard behind the scenes.

I really liked this quote, via Amick:

“People say to my boys, ‘Hey man, you know your daddy’s crazy?’” LaVar said. “And you know what they’re saying, ‘Tell us something we don’t know. He’s been crazy all our life. When we came out he was crazy.’ So whatever is on the outside, talking about us, it doesn’t matter. It does not matter.”

I believe Lonzo Ball can play productively amid his father’s self-generated controversies. The best evidence: Ball is playing productively right now amid his father’s self-generated controversies.

The NBA is a different animal, and pro teams should investigate Lonzo Ball just as they would any top prospect, including researching how those close to him affect him.

I would be a little concerned about LaVar Ball.

I’d be far more concerned about passing on a superior player.

Watch Spurs Collins bloody Russell Westbrook with a foul, get ejected

Los Angeles Lakers v San Antonio Spurs
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Jakob Poeltl was dominating the paint, scoring 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting with nine rebounds in 10 minutes, and giving the Lakers serious trouble. Then he had to leave the game with a sore quad, meaning Zach Collins would get more run.

Collins was ejected for a flagrant foul 2 on Russell Westbrook that left the Lakers guard bloodied.

Collins plans to appeal the ejection he said after the game.

Collins will face a fine or suspension from the league, although he doesn’t have a history of this kind of foul, something the league takes into consideration. Westbrook also got a technical for going after Collins.

The Lakers went on to beat the Spurs 143-138, behind 39 points from LeBron James. It’s the second time the Lakers have defeated the Spurs in three days, the kind of wins over tanking teams the Lakers need if they are going to turn their season around.

Watch Victor Wembanyama drop 30-point double-double in France

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Maybe you spent your Saturday afternoon watching Lionel Messi doing Lionel Messi things. Or intense college football rivalries.

In France, they spent part of the day watching Kylian Mbappe be brilliant but then flipped over and watched future No.1 pick Victor Wembanyama drop a 30-point double-double.

That’s two straight 30-point double-doubles for Wembanyama.

He will be the No.1 pick next June (barring something catastrophic), and teams are already thinking about the lottery next June.

Expect some other teams to jump in that mix at the bottom because the depth of this class goes well beyond just Wembanyama with Scoot Henderson, Amen Thompson and others. The tanking is coming people.

 

Boogie Cousins called Warriors GM Myers and got reality check on why he’s not in NBA

2022 NBA Playoffs - Denver Nuggets v Golden State Warriors
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DeMarcus Cousins didn’t understand why he didn’t have an NBA contract this season.

He thought he had proven he could help teams in need of front-line depth last season, first in Milwaukee when Brook Lopez was out following back surgery and gave them 9.1 points and 5.8 rebounds a game of solid play. The Bucks ultimately let Cousins go for financial reasons, so the Nuggets picked him up to backup Nikola Jokic. He was again solid, averaging 8.9 points and 5.5 rebounds a game (and he had a 31-point night against the Rockets).

Confused, he called one of the former GMs who brought him in, Bob Myers of the Golden State Warriors. Myers relayed their conversation on the All That Smoke podcast (via NBC Sports Bay Area).

“DeMarcus called me a month ago and he said, ‘Why am I not in the NBA?’ ” Myers told Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson on the “All The Smoke” podcast earlier this week. “And I said, ‘You want that answer? … Because people are afraid of how you’re going to act.’ And he’s like ‘Why?’ And I said, ‘Well whatever the reason is, it’s here now.’

“And I like DeMarcus. You guys may know him. He’s just, I can’t blame him for him because of all he’s been through.”

Not long after that conversation, Cousins spoke with Chris Haynes and said he learned from his past mistakes.

“Have I made mistakes? Absolutely. Have I done things the wrong way? Absolutely. For that, I’m very apologetic. But I’ve done even more things the correct way and I’ve done even more positive things compared to my negatives. I just don’t want those positives to be overlooked. And obviously, whenever it gets to the point where the negatives outweigh the positives, you should probably move away from him. That’s just how life goes. But I don’t believe I’m in that boat. I’m just asking for a chance to show my growth as a man and a player.”

Cousins also had physical issues, including a torn ACL that cost him a season with the Lakers in 2019-20. He also had domestic abuse allegations at the time (those charges were dropped a few months later).

Cousins just wants the chance to prove he is past all that and can help a team like he did last season. There have been rumors out of Taiwan that Cousins could join Dwight Howard in that league, but Cousins has not confirmed that. He still wants his shot in the NBA. So he waits, and hopes he can change the narrative around him.

Giannis Antetokounmpo says of Evan Mobley, ‘He can be better than me’

Cleveland Cavaliers v Milwaukee Bucks
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Evan Mobley hasn’t taken the leap forward in his second season many expected, partly because he has to adjust to playing with a new, dominant backcourt in Cleveland of Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland. Mobley is getting nearly five fewer touches a game and is not getting the same chances to use his off-the-bounce skills (73% of his shots this season come off zero or one-dribble) as he did when he was a rookie.

That doesn’t mean his superstar potential has gone away. Just ask Giannis Antetokounmpo, as Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer did.

“He can be better than me,” Antetokounmpo told cleveland.com in an exclusive interview while walking out of Fiserv Forum… “I don’t see why he can’t. It’s up to him. I will always try to improve. Every day. But he has the skill set to be a very, very good player. He’s 7-feet tall. He can move really well. He can shoot. He is very smart. As you said, he watches tapes of other players, which is very, very good for a young player. If he takes this seriously, he is going to be great.”

Better than Giannis? What could possibly make him say that?

“I didn’t average what he is in my second season, so he’s already ahead of me,” Antetokounmpo told cleveland.com. “It’s in his hands. If he stays humble, continues to work hard, focuses on the game and shows love to the game of basketball, he is going to be really good.”

One of the players Mobley is known to study on tape is Antetokounmpo. Of course, mirroring the force and athleticism Antetokounmpo plays with is next to impossible, but Mobley has the skill set that could see him become a shot-creator and scorer on the wing with the ball.

The Cavaliers don’t need him to be that with Garland improving and Michell being better than advertised. Cleveland has a top-five offense and hasn’t had to turn to Mobley for more scoring and shot creation. But that can change, especially come the playoffs against the strong defenses of teams such as the Bucks and Celtics. Ultimately, how far these Cavaliers can go in the postseason over the next few years could come down to the growth of Mobley on the offensive end.

Antetokounmpo believes Mobley could be special in that role, which should give fans in Cleveland even more hope.