Getty Image

Lonzo Ball not worried his father LaVar will be problem with teammates

2 Comments

Los Angeles coach Luke Walton tells the story of coming to Lakers training camp as a rookie in 2003, when his father Bill was an outspoken television color commentator on national NBA games, and having multiple veterans basically tell him “I’m going to make your life hell because of your father.” But it didn’t really work out that way. Walton proved he belonged, found a role on a team that went to the NBA Finals, and fit in. He wasn’t really hazed more than any other rookie.

Lonzo Ball feels much the same way. Sure, his father LaVar Ball has courted media attention with the outlandish, but the son does not expect to be punished for the sins of his father.

“Nah. Speaking for my teammates, they already know how he is so it’s never been a problem, and I don’t think it’s going to be a problem,” Ball told NBCSports.com.

In fact, the younger Ball says the new “Ball in the Family” reality series on Facebook is already changing the opinions of some about his father and his family.

“I think they’re already seeing it because I get a lot of feedback on the show, and a lot more people are seeing the person that he really is,” Ball said. “I’m happy for him, I’m happy people get to see the person I have known my whole life.”

That may be true, but you can bet some of the stars LaVar took shots at — Stephen Curry, LeBron James and others — may do a little stare down with dad jogging back upcourt after a big play against the Lakers this season. It’s not wise to provide the NBA’s best players more motivation.

None of it seems to phase Lonzo. The younger Ball just does what he does, not reacting to his father. For example, LaVar said that Steve Nash was too short and slow to teach his son anything, but Lonzo didn’t see it that way at all.

“He’s an MVP, you know, one of the best point guards who ever played, so anything that he taught me is definitely useful,” Ball said. “And just that one day alone I learned a lot about coming off a screen, guarding, there’s a lot of stuff he helped and I appreciate him taking time out of his day to do that because I know he didn’t have to.”

Working on how to better take advantage of screens was something coach Walton wanted Ball to focus on this summer, and few have ever been better and using their dribble as a weapon to create space and angles off a pick as Nash. Another area of focus this summer was getting stronger and working on conditioning before the marathon grind of the NBA season — Nash could help with that, too. He was one of the NBA’s early prophets on the topics of diet and sleep for players.

“We talked about nutrition, keeping your body right in the training room and stuff, lifting weights the right way, so he helped me on more things than just basketball,” Ball said. “He helped me with my all around game… speaking for myself, I haven’t really taken care of my body like that before because I didn’t have to. Hearing it from him, it definitely made a lot of sense and I’m looking forward to adding that to my daily routine.”

One big question out there has been Lonzo’s shoes — he wore a different pair almost nightly during Summer League. During our conversation — which you can hear all of on the PBT Podcast — I asked him what planned to wear opening night against the Clippers? A pair of his brother’s LaMelo’s? Lonzo laughed and said he’s stick with his own shoes, the ZO2.

Lonzo is just going to do his thing. Like always. So far that has worked well for him.

 

Brad Stevens says Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward should be fully cleared by Aug. 1

Associated Press
2 Comments

Everyone watching the Boston Celtics in the playoffs kept thinking the same thing: Add Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward back into this lineup next summer and — bang — instant contender.

That leads to the question: Just where are Irving and Hayward on their recovery tracks? Glad you asked.

That’s a good sign for the Celtics. And for fans of good basketball.

One word of caution: Progression when adding stars into a system is not necessarily linear. Or, to put it more plainly, throwing superstars who need the ball in their hands into the mix comes with its own set of adjustments and challenges, things do not always go smoothly or as planned. There could be some fits and starts as the Celtics figure things out next season. (And that’s not even getting into the Kawhi Leonard rumors, which are legitimate but also a long way from reality as of today.)

If you were going to trust one coach to figure it out and get guys to buy in, Brad Stevens would be your guy. The Celtics are rightfully going to enter next season as the bar to clear in the East (free agency depending). Just don’t expect things to go smoothly from day one, because that’s just not how basketball or life work.

Michael Porter Jr. says his injury situation “got exaggerated a lot”

Getty Images
2 Comments

If healthy, Michael Porter Jr. might be as talented as anyone in this draft. He’s a 6’11” wing or small ball four who can shoot from the NBA three-point line and has the athleticism to get up and down the floor then finish with authority.

But health is a concern. There was the back injury which forced a microdiscectomy surgery that forced Porter to miss all but three games last season. Back injuries in big men are tricky things and can linger. Then last week there was an off-again-on-again workout and medical evaluation with the pause due to a hip issue. Was that soreness tied to the back issue?

In an interview on ESPN radio, Porter played down the injury concerns.

Former Missouri freshman Michael Porter Jr., who had issues with his hip and back, said Monday that he’s “feeling great” and wouldn’t dismiss the idea of working out for teams this week ahead of Thursday’s NBA draft.

“It’s a possibility,” Porter said on The Will Cain Show on ESPN Radio. “I feel good. … I got evaluated. I let the doctors come in and do all their tests on me. I’m feeling good. I think the teams are comfortable, but I might get a couple workouts in.”

As for last week’s hip issue.

“It was just a little sore, so I told [my agent] my hip was kind of sore and he just wanted to shut it down for a couple of days,” Porter said. “And then people took that and kind of ran with it, saying, you know, my hip was injured, I couldn’t get out of bed. … None of that was really true. I was just sore and I wanted to take a couple of days off. So that’s all that was.”

Porter is the mystery man in this draft — and those guys always seem to rise and have someone fall in love with them. It’s hard to imagine Porter going lower than eighth, but he has been linked to teams as high as the Kings at No. 2.

Porter is the kind of player that some team lower in the draft may fall in love with and be willing to trade up to the top five to snag him. The health is the question. An NBA front office member who has seen Porter’s medical reports described them to NBC Sports as “fine.”

There are also concerns about Porter’s grit and toughness. He has the reputation of having been insulated and having been a bit of a diva, what happens when he gets to an NBA team where he is not the first (and, at first at least, maybe not the second) option. What happens when he has to play more of a role and have it not be about him and his touches? Teams are asking about that.

Despite the concerns, there will be a team taking him in the first half of the lottery. It could be a home run. Or… that’s what makes the draft interesting.

Report: As expected, Jamal Crawford declines $4.5 million player option with Minnesota

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jamal Crawford wants a bigger payday, and after a solid season scoring 10.3 points per game for Minnesota last season, he might get it despite a tight market. That’s why what happened on Monday was expected.

Crawford opted out of the final year of his contract with the Timberwolves, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jamal Crawford has declined his $4.5 million player option for next season and will become a free agent, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Crawford, a three-time Sixth Man of the Year, will become one of the top reserve scorers on the open market after facing Monday’s deadline to decide on his option.

The concern for teams is that Crawford is 38 and already showing some decline in his skills and game. Crawford can still be productive, but teams will be leery of offering more than two years guaranteed on his contract. And for a guy who comes off the bench — even a three-time Sixth Man of the Year — teams are not going to spend big.

Crawford may also just be looking for a new team chemistry and role, something at this stage in his career he should be able to get.

Enes Kanter’s father sentenced to 15 years in jail in ongoing political dispute

Getty Images
2 Comments

The dictatorial Turkish government has issued an arrest warrant for Knicks big man Enes Kanter because he is an outspoken opponent of Turkey’s current president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Kanter is not foolish enough to go home to be arrested (and likely tortured), he may never see his homeland again.

Kanter’s family had to disavow their son and his beliefs. That apparently was not enough. Kanter’s father, Mehmet Kanter, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison in Turkey for “membership in a terror group,” the country’s official news agency reported Monday.

Enes Kanter believes to be a politically motivated attempt to go at him. Kanter released this statement.

The Turkish government’s shots at Kanter are not new. Last summer the Turkish government revoked Kanter’s passport while he was abroad, forcing American diplomats (with some help from the NBA) to step in and prevent him from being sent back to his native country and arrested.

All of this is because Kanter is a follower of the Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania. Turkish president Erdogan — who is essentially a dictator now, and runs a country where human rights abuses are rampant — blames Gulen for masterminding a failed 2016 coup attempt in Turkey, and used that as an excuse for a crackdown and consolidation of power.

Using or dividing family members to try to gain political advantage or make a political statement is abhorrent, anywhere it happens. Unfortunately, Kanter is caught in the middle of it and there is little he can do.