The Lakers fired a couple of warning shots across the bow of Lonzo Ball this summer. First, they went out and got Rajon Rondo as a free agent. Then, after Josh Hart won the Summer League MVP for his play with the Lakers, Magic Johnson said he could see Hart starting for the Lakers at the point someday.
Then there was Ball’s name popping up in trade rumors this summer, particularly those for Kawhi Leonard. (Sources told me the interest in Ball in San Antonio and around the league was lukewarm, teams instead were far more into Brandon Ingram as a target, one player the Lakers did not want to surrender.)
Ball wasn’t bothered by any of this. That’s what he said during an episode of “Ball In the Family,” the Facebook reality series about the Ball family. (Hat tip to the Lonzo Wire, who watches Ball in the Family so we don’t have to.)
There’s trade rumors every year… Athletes in general, you’re never really 100 percent safe. Wherever you’re at. Anything can happen, especially in the offseason, so all I can do is just make sure I’m ready to play at the best of my abilities.
I don’t doubt Ball is telling the truth. For a young player, he is very professional in a lot of ways and is incredibly good at tuning out the distractions around him to focus on his game (a skill one would need considering his father). Ball ignored the circus last season, and the Laker locker room did as well. All the distractions around Lonzo are a much bigger deal outside the Lakers’ locker room than in it.
No doubt Ball also got the message the Lakers’ sent, too: There’s no more coddling of him or any other young players. With the addition of LeBron James, the Lakers are a “win now” team and either you can help with that and push the team towards a title, or you’re out. Ball, with his ability to push the pace and get others involved, could have a role on a contender. However, he needs to prove he can play well off the ball (something he did at UCLA and will be better than some expect at it) and that he has become more of a scoring threat, both with his jumper and finishing around the rim.
Do those things, and stay healthy this season, and his stock goes way up (both with the Lakers and other teams).