We already knew through anonymous sources that Lonzo Ball didn’t want to go to the New Orleans Pelicans in an Anthony Davis trade, and then we heard he would prefer to be on the Phoenix Suns. On Monday morning, his father LaVar Ball confirmed Lonzo’s wishes on the record.
LaVar made it clear to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN that his band of big ballers isn’t rushing out of Los Angeles, but also that Phoenix is where they want Lonzo if he’s dealt for Anthony Davis:
LaVar Ball tells ESPN that if Lonzo Ball is traded, he wants his son to go to Phoenix: “We want to be in LA. But if he’s traded, I don’t want Lonzo in New Orleans. Phoenix is the best fit for him. And I am going to speak it into existence.”— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) February 4, 2019
The problem for LaVar here is a simple one: The Lakers and Pelicans don’t have to care what he wants. He may run Big Baller Brand, but there are bigger ballers in play than him and Lonzo — namely LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Klutch Sports and Magic Johnson, to name a few.
Plus, there is the fact that the Pelicans reportedly consider Lonzo an integral part of any package for Davis, and if they want Lonzo, there isn’t a whole lot the Balls can do.
Lonzo and LaVar can grouse through the media, but the bottom line is that Lonzo is under contract for two more years before restricted free agency, meaning that even if he was dead-set on getting out of New Orleans as quickly as possible, signing his qualifying offer three summers from now and then entering unrestricted free agency would be the quickest way to do so without the Pelicans wanting to move him.
That would seem to be a real risk for a player with Ball’s history of injuries, which is among the many reasons the Pelicans may call his — and LaVar’s — bluff. That might be why they’re trying to gum up the works now and complicate things just enough to keep Lonzo in Los Angeles, but the Pelicans and Lakers just don’t have a lot of reason to pay their wishes any mind.