Even with new whispers that the Los Angeles Lakers may not be as much of a shoe-in to take Lonzo Ball second overall in the 2017 NBA Draft as previously thought, most still expect the UCLA guard to ultimately end up wearing purple and gold.
That’s great news for the Lakers on the court, where they could use a multi-talented distributor and shooter who projects to be an at-least-average defender.
Off the court is a different story, where Lonzo Ball’s father, LaVar Ball, has made a habit of putting his foot in his mouth. Since UCLA’s season ended, the elder Ball has blamed UCLA’s postseason loss on the team having too many slow, white guys and made a regrettable reference to Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving’s deceased mother.
According to Sham Charania of the Vertical, however, Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson doesn’t need to worry about that type of stuff happening in Los Angeles because of the level of reverence with which the Ball family holds the “Showtime” legend.
“For all the headlines surrounding Lonzo’s father LaVar, know that every member of the Ball household has tremendous respect, tremendous reverence for Magic Johnson. For the Lakers, Magic’s presence could go a long way. He is a relationship creator with the Hall-of-Fame pedigree to back it up. It could attract free agents, and this year the UCLA top prospect.”
Charania’s report came the same day that NBA Commisioner Adam Silver said in an interview with ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike that a team that drafted Lonzo Ball would be able to keep his father from becoming an issue (h/t Kyle Boone of CBS Sports):
"You know, in all my years in the league I once spoke to a player's father in a very polite way," Silver said. "I think here, all I know is if I were an NBA team looking at Lonzo Ball, I'm not sure how much consideration I'd give to his father. Ultimately I think the issue [is] how much game does Lonzo have? How great an NBA player can he be? I think his dad will invariably settle down once his son is drafted and a team has the appropriate discussions with him. So I'm not concerned about that."
Maybe LaVar Ball really will settle down on making headlines about his eldest son once the Lakers draft him. He might have bigger concerns with LiAngelo Ball set to attend UCLA in the fall and his youngest son LaMelo Ball continuing to play high school basketball, both of which he could see as situations he needs to pay more attention to and publicly pressure more frequently.
There is also a chance he doesn’t, and even if the Lakers have continuously said publicly they aren’t worried, they’re surely deliberating over how much it matters that LaVar Ball can’t seem, or doesn’t want, to stay out of the news.
Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here, or listen to our latest episode discussing Ball below), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.