LaMelo Ball

Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images

Australian NBL pumps breaks on report LaMelo Ball has bought a team

Leave a comment

It was a stunning headline, especially considering LaMelo Ball is just 18:

He bought a team in the Australian National Basketball League, specifically the Illawarra Hawks, the team he played for some last season. It’s an insane story.

And it’s not quite true. At least not yet. The NBL released a statement that pumped the breaks on the idea of a sale to Ball and his manager, Jermaine Jackson. Part of the statement reads:

“The league can confirm LaMelo Ball and his management had discussions about being involved with the club while he was playing in the NBL last season. At this point we are continuing to work with current licence holder Simon Stratford on a number of options for what we hope will be a fruitful outcome for Illawarra and the NBL.

The NBL has final approval on any transfer of licence and no application has been made to date. The NBL has no further comment at this stage.

Did LaMelo and his manager jump the gun? Or, is this a negotiating ploy by the NBL and Stratford to get more money by jacking up the price on a sale?

Those two follow a host of other questions, including what percentage of the team would Ball and his manager own? What would their involvement be?

Ineligible for college stateside, Ball chose to play in Australia under the NBL’s Next Stars program. It worked, he’s projected to be a top-five, maybe top-three pick. He left the NBL after suffering a season-ending foot injury, although that came under a cloud of criticism from Hawks owner Stratford.

The ultimate revenge would be to buy the team, if that is actually happening.

Rumor: If Warriors land No. 1 pick they would take Anthony Edwards

Carmen Mandato/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The only consensus about the 2020 NBA Draft is that it’s not a very good class.

Not only is there no Zion Williamson or Ja Morant level player at the top of the board, but there’s also no consensus on who is the best player in the class. James Wiseman has some backers, while others lean LaMelo Ball because he has a high ceiling if his shot and decision making dramatically improve.

If the Warriors get the top pick — they will have a 14 percent shot at it in the draft lottery — they would take Anthony Edwards, reports Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle.

According to multiple league sources The Chronicle contacted in the past few days, the Warriors — contrary to what mock drafts might suggest — aren’t believed to be high on two of the three players being mentioned as possibilities at the No. 1 pick: former Memphis center James Wiseman and point guard LaMelo Ball, who last played for the Illawarra Hawks of Australia’s National Basketball League. As one source put it, “I think they’d only take one of those two if they were trading down in the draft and taking them for another team…

If the Warriors land the No. 1 pick in the draft, they’ll be open to trading it. But if Golden State doesn’t receive a worthy offer, it would likely take Edwards with the top selection, according to a league source.

What the Warriors would do with the top pick was a topic on this week’s ProBasketballTalk Podcast. NBC Sports’ Rob Dauster suggested Golden State’s best move is to trade down a few spots then take players who can help more now such as Isaac Okoro or Obi Toppin. However, if they kept the top pick because offers were not good enough, he suggested Edwards was the best call.

Over at ESPN, draft guru Mike Schmitz said if he were the Warriors he would take LaMelo Ball. The logic there is he has the highest ceiling of any player in this draft if his shot comes around and his decision making improves (he shot 37.5 percent overall and 25 percent from three in Australia this season, choosing to jack up a lot of questionable shots). The Warriors would not put up with off-the-court antics from Ball — that’s a strong locker room with Draymond Green and Stephen Curry — but whether Ball can reach his ceiling is an open question.

It’s sort of the same thing with Wiseman. He’s the best positional fit for the Warriors, who would love a rim-running and defensive big, but he seems to be years away from reaching that potential if he does at all (there are questions about his passion for improving and if he would accept the rim-runner role). The Warriors are win now, they aren’t waiting around for a non-elite player to develop (there are no projected elite players in this class).

Whether the Warriors will be faced with this decision — or what they will do with the pick they do get — is all on hold. The date for the NBA Draft Lottery and the draft itself remains up in the air. The draft process itself this season is filled with challenges for every team.

Report: LaMelo Ball buys his Australian team

LaMelo Ball
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images
Leave a comment

LaMelo Ball signed in Australia under the National Basketball League’s Next Stars program and built himself into a high-end draft pick. But he suffered a season-ending foot injury then left his team under criticism from Illawarra Hawks owner Simon Stratford.

What a powerful rebuttal.

Jonathan Givony of ESPN:

Potential No. 1 NBA draft pick LaMelo Ball and his manager, Jermaine Jackson, have purchased his Australian NBL team, the Illawarra Hawks, Jackson told ESPN on Thursday.

“When Melo wants to do stuff in the summertime, we’ll be there,” Jackson said. “We’ll take a tour with his family all over Australia, doing basketball camps and connecting with the youth. He wants to inspire the next generation.

“That’s how he was raised by his family. People have a perception of his father, but he has a heart of gold and it trickles down to his kids. His father didn’t take him on a traditional route. He started his own sneaker company, Big Baller Brand. We’ve always talked about ownership. Melo wants kids to think big, especially in times like this.”

This is a heck of a headline for an 18-year-old.

I’m curious about the details. What share of the franchise do Ball and Jackson now own? How much did it cost? Did they assume debt to complete the deal? How profitable are NBL teams, especially considering coronavirus-caused uncertainty?

But with Lonzo Ball‘s Pelicans season on hold and LaVar Ball losing influence, this at least puts the spotlight back on a Ball.

Anthony Edwards declares for NBA draft: ‘I think I should go number No. 1, no doubt’

Georgia star Anthony Edwards
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images
Leave a comment

With the NBA on hiatus and considering permanently shifting its calendar, the draft process is in flux.

Will prospects have opportunities to work out for teams? Will the combine and other pre-draft events be held? When will the draft be?

No matter how those questions get answered, there’s a place for a high-end prospect like Anthony Edwards.

Evan Daniels of 247Sports:

Potential No. 1 pick and Georgia standout Anthony Edwards is entering the NBA Draft, he tells 247Sports.

“I think I should go number one, no doubt,” Edwards told 247Sports. “That’s the only place I think I should go.”

Edwards is a strong and athletic scoring guard. He powerfully attacks the basket and makes plenty of difficult shots from the perimeter. It’s easy to project him as an NBA star with that skill set.

Edwards also has all the tools to defend well. He has even shown he can do it. That’s just not a consistent aspect of his game.

It’d be nice if Edwards shot more dependably on 3-pointers. His shot selection needs improvement, though that could be a product of his situation. Either way, Edwards must adjust to playing with better teammates, not just taking over the offense.

As is, Edwards looks like the most likely No. 1 pick in a wide-open 2020 NBA draft. But other prospects – including LaMelo Ball, Deni Avdija and James Wiseman – can also make cases.

LaMelo Ball leaves Australia, supposedly without telling his team

LaMelo Ball cutout
Brent Lewin/Getty Images
Leave a comment

LaMelo Ball suffered as season-ending foot injury while playing Australia last month.

Now, he’s returning to the United States – and leaving behind some hurt feelings.

Timothy Fernandez of ABC News:

American basketball sensation LaMelo Ball has unceremoniously ended his Australian stint, leaving the country without telling his teammates.

His club, the Illawarra Hawks confirmed the 18-year-old guard had taken a flight home and will continue his rehabilitation from a foot injury, which kept him sidelined since November, in the United States.

Meanwhile, the owner of the Illawarra Hawks has criticised the star’s unannounced departure from the club.

“I’m really disappointed that he didn’t say goodbye to his teammates and his coach,” Simon Stratford told NewsCorp.

“We had some indication via his minder Jermaine Jackson that he wouldn’t stay for the rest of the season.

Ball was in Australia because the NBA still hasn’t lowered its age minimum. So, that’s where could go to earn money and improve his draft stock.

Mission accomplished.

Did Ball handle his departure appropriately tactfully and respectfully? Maybe not.

Do I completely trust messaging from a spurned team? Nope.

As long as LaVar Ball remains in the picture, there will be concern about controversy surrounding LaMelo. Teams should look into how LaMelo handles this situation. Perhaps, his exit from Australia shows something about his dependability.

But LaMelo’s time in Australia absolutely showed his talent. That will get him picked high in the 2020 NBA draft.