When LaVar Ball said Luke Walton lost the Lakers, some players strongly defended their coach. Not LaVar’s son, Lonzo Ball. The promising rookie didn’t commit to either side. That, and the Lakers’ on-the-record silence on the issue, sparked speculation and rumors.
But the Lakers found a little groove, and the hysteria quieted. The words of LaVar – who’s in Lithuania, where his other sons, LiAngelo and LaMelo, are playing – faded.
So, LaVar has cooked up another way to get his name into headlines.
It’s hard to follow LaVar’s exact timeline here. (It’s hard to follow a lot of what he says.) But let’s try to unpack it.
Lonzo is under contract through the 2020-21 season. The Lakers have team options on the final two years, but they’re not declining those unless Lonzo stumbles badly (in which case this is all moot). The Lakers can also make Lonzo a restricted free agent in 2021, which means the soonest Lonzo can unilaterally leave Los Angeles is 2022, and that would require taking his qualifying in 2021.
In other words, Lonzo isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The Lakers shouldn’t feel pressed to get LiAngelo, a low-end prospect.
But could there be actual ramifications for not drafting him or signing him? LaVar acts as if he’s Lonzo’s de facto manager/agent. Lonzo has never shut the door on that perception.
He’ll get asked about this, though. It’ll be another opportunity to distance himself from his father or his franchise – or walk a delicate middle line yet again. It’s a tough spot for a 20-year-old.
That, more than the threat of him walking in free agency, is why the Lakers are worried about him.