LaVar Ball made his semi-regularly Fox Sports Car Wash Tour earlier this week and, as per usual, had plenty to say about, well, everything. LaVar’s interviews tend to be wide-ranging, and this appearance was no different.
One notable excerpt had to do with his middle son, LiAngelo Ball, and a promise LaVar claims was made about the chance ‘Gelo would get from the Lakers as a result of them employing Lonzo. Was such a promise ever made? On FS1’s “Undisputed,” LaVar claimed there was:
Yes. Him and Rob. Behind closed doors, we did talking just like grown men. We don’t have to put it out there. I ain’t saying ‘Put my boy on the team’ or nothing like that. Let him play with Lonzo and see how he do. If he does raggedy, then I don’t think it’ll work. But let him and Lonzo do they thing together. They always been successful together. So, that’s why I was just like ‘I can’t roll with ya’ll now.’
We should start by noting that, on subject of chances, LiAngelo was given the opportunity to go in and wow Lakers executives in a pre-draft workout. He didn’t. Even while it’s easy to pile on Pelinka in cases like this, technically speaking, he might consider this aspect of the promise fulfilled.
LiAngelo’s workout was so disappointing that the Lakers didn’t even include him on the summer league team, which was hardly filled with tons of difference-makers.
All that said, if this is true (and given all the stuff LaVar has said in the past, that is a huge if), this would be yet another example of Pelinka going back on his word. The list of such scenarios is getting pretty long, and the fact that some might believe LaVar in this instance speaks to just how little trust anyone has in the Lakers GM.
And speaking of Pelinka’s reputation, LaVar had no problem going there, either:
It’s kind of hard. If you was an agent, you owe some people some favors. And that’s why you get some of these other (draft) picks where you like ‘Why did you take that guy?’ There’s a reason he took him. He owed this dude a favor back in the day. I don’t know too many people that can run something like that if you’re an agent because there’s too many flaws.
LaVar was asked which draft pick he might be alluding to specifically and said it wasn’t first-round pick Moe Wagner (who was more of a Magic pick anyway), but instead Svi Mykhailiuk, who was taken 47th overall:
I’m just saying. There had to be a favor. The other kid, Xavi (presumably meaning Svi), there’s some better players out there. But when you owe certain people, it’s just like then you go overseas to look at some people but then you say you don’t go overseas. ‘The Ball boys, they overseas. They’re not in the US. Don’t look at them.’ But you go over there looking at somebody else. That’s why I’m like ‘Don’t tell me you owe somebody something.’ Because the guys you pick, you put them against my boy, my boy kill them.
Even by LaVar’s standards, this is a pretty low blow aimed at Mykhailiuk, who has since been traded to the Detroit Pistons for Reggie Bullock. Maybe it was a draft-specific favor that LaVar is describing here, but I find it hard to believe that Pelinka would do this person the solid of drafting Svi but be okay with later trading him anyway.
It’s hard not to feel like LaVar is taking an opportunity to throw a little dirt on Magic and Pelinka given all the noise they’re currently dealing with. What’s weird is he’s choosing to do this at a time when Pelinka is still tasked with running the team his son plays for and could very easily send Lonzo to New Orleans in exchange for Anthony Davis.
The counter to any of LaVar’s gripes her is that LiAngelo — in multiple situations — has fallen well short of the talent needed to play in the NBA, no matter how much better LaVar seems to think he’ll play if put on the same team as Lonzo.
He simply isn’t an NBA-caliber player, which isn’t even really a knock here. Precious few are born with the natural gifts and talent needed to compete at that level, and LiAngelo just happens to not fit into that category of athlete.
As has been the case any other time LaVar has made outlandish statements, very little will likely come of this, but it is interesting to think that yet another person might feel potentially wronged by a front office that seems to have been defined by underhanded tactics and a loose definition of promises. Even if they might see working out LiAngelo as the fulfillment of said promise.