LaVar Ball's promise to the Lakers that helped them draft Lonzo in folding onto itself and creating tension
Sean M. Haffey/Getty
Sean M. Haffey/Getty
- Though LaVar Ball once said he'd be hands-off with Lonzo Ball and the Los Angeles Lakers, his comments reached new heights recently when he said head coach Luke Walton has lost the team.
- Lonzo and Walton both downplayed the comments, but it's another incident that has turned into a distraction for the Lakers.
- It's unclear how the Lakers can ask LaVar to tone down his criticism and it seems unlikely to stop.
LaVar Ball once promised the Los Angeles Lakers that he would be hands-off with Lonzo Ball, and through less than half of the season, that promise has been broken.
ESPN's Ramona Shelburne reported in July that LaVar and the Lakers president Magic Johnson sat down before the 2017 NBA Draft in June and LaVar promised that he would let the Lakers work with his son Lonzo. LaVar said he'd coach his two youngest sons, LiAngelo and LaMelo, and would let the Lakers coaches do their jobs.
LaVar has not remained hands-off, however. On Sunday, ESPN's Jeff Goodman reported that LaVar believes Lakers coach Luke Walton has lost control of the team.
"Luke doesn't have control of the team no more," LaVar told Goodman. "They don't want to play for him."
The comments were not the first time LaVar became involved with the Lakers' goings-on. He has criticized Walton's coaching before and made Lonzo a target of other players. LaVar's outspokenness even prompted the Lakers to enforce a media rule in an effort to prevent media members from interviewing LaVar at games.
Now it seems as though the situation is coming to a head. Both Lonzo and Walton downplayed LaVar's comments on Sunday.
"He is going to say what he wants to say," Lonzo told reporters. "I can't [do] nothing about it." Lonzo, however, didn't exactly give a ringing endorsement of Walton, saying he will play for whomever is coaching the team.
Said Walton: "We're, I feel, very secure in my job status right now. We talk all the time. [Management is] 100 percent behind and supporting what we're doing."
Walton even had some fun with the comments, joking after the Lakers' 132-113 win over the Atlanta Hawks of substituting Lonzo out of the game, "His dad was talking s--- so I took him out early."
Yet this round of comments is making waves. Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle blasted ESPN for giving LaVar an outlet, saying as an NBA partner that ESPN should not be broadcasting a "blowhard" calling for a coach's job.
Likewise, according to NBA reporter Sam Amico, some coaches want to deny media credentials to reporters who interview LaVar.
While many in the NBA world may dispute the methods by which LaVar became a prominent voice, he's nonetheless now someone who makes headlines, not just a typical sports parent. When he calls for Luke Walton's firing, it means Lonzo, Walton, and the Lakers have to answer questions about it.
It's unclear how the Lakers could proceed from here. Lonzo has made it clear that LaVar will say what he wants, a suggestion he does not intend to tell his father to quiet his criticisms. And the Lakers could kindly ask LaVar not to say such things, but they don't have any sort of power to make him stop.
Despite some in the NBA world insisting it wouldn't matter, this was always the fear about drafting Lonzo - it's a package deal. The Lakers now have LaVar Ball to deal with, and it seems unlikely that he'll tone it down any time soon.