When it was initially reported that the Los Angeles Lakers were fully committing to giving Jason Kidd a role on their coaching staff — before they had officially come to terms with new head coach Frank Vogel — there was a surprising, previously unknown nugget that dropped: According to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, Kidd had been working with Lonzo Ball in some form or fashion:
Kidd has a strong relationship with LeBron James and mentored Lonzo last year https://t.co/rOpYvqUHim— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) May 11, 2019
In a day full of interesting developments, this was certainly among the most unexpected. It also left Lakers fans with questions. When had Kidd worked with Ball? What were they working on or discussing? How much of a role did it actually play in the Lakers determining they absolutely had to have Kidd as part of their coaching staff, despite initially not wanting to hire him?
Well, we know it played a part in the answer to the latter question, as part of what reportedly impressed general manager Rob Pelinka and senior basketball advisor Kurt Rambis about Kidd was his plan for Ball. As for the former two queries, it sounds like the answers are “we don’t know” and “it’s unclear,” because according to Tania Ganguli of The L.A. Times, it doesn’t sound like Kidd and Ball actually worked together for a significant amount of time (emphasis mine):
The Lakers are hoping Kidd’s influence can benefit point guard Lonzo Ball, who will enter his third year. When Ball entered the NBA, many people compared his skill set to Kidd’s. Last season Lakers center Tyson Chandler, a former teammate of Kidd’s, asked him to speak with Ball and the pair had a phone conversation.
It’s unknown if that’s the full extent of Ball’s mentorship under Kidd, but if it is, that’s a sort of weak public justification to give for hiring someone. Especially when all it does is add fuel to the fire of the idea that not only was Kidd publicly stumping for Luke Walton’s job while the latter was still employed, he was apparently trying to gain the ears of his players, too. That’s not exactly reassuring for those worried that Kidd’s predisposition to making power plays might crop back up now that he’s officially employed by the Lakers.
Look, Kidd might actually be able to help Ball. They’re both bigger, cerebral point guards who apparently already have a relationship on some level, even if it’s not clear that it’s much more a phone call so far. Maybe, as an NBA Hall of Famer, Kidd may be able to break through to Ball in ways other coaches may not have been able to. All these things are possible.
Still, if all Ball and Kidd have had is a phone call, it’s impossible to know how much they’ll connect, or how well this will work. We’ll just have to wait and see how it goes, or if we get better reasoning than this for the decision.