The Lakers mishandled the latest controversy involving LaVar Ball, writes Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. The outspoken father of rookie Lonzo Ball said over the weekend that coach Luke Walton has lost control of the team and that players no longer enjoy playing for him.
The comments drew a harsh reaction from other coaches such as the Mavericks’ Rick Carlisle, the Pistons’ Stan Van Gundy and the Warriors’ Steve Kerr, but Bontemps says Lakers management failed to speak out swiftly to defend Walton.
GM Rob Pelinka turned down two requests to talk to reporters at Sunday’s game, then team president Magic Johnson did the same at Monday’s practice. Bontemps notes this would have been a perfect opportunity to support Walton and send a message to LaVar Ball, but the team leaders remained silent.
There’s more from the Pacific Division:
- Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is ready to move on after completing a 25-day jail sentence, relays Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. Caldwell-Pope was released for games and practices, but wasn’t permitted to leave California for road trips. “Paid my debts and all,” he said. “… Everything is done. Put that behind me. Moving forward, finish my season. Just happy to be home. Just a minor setback for me, [but there’s a] lot of things I gotta change. Lotta things I gotta improve on. Had a lot of time to think about it.”
- Warriors forward David West heard a lot of second guessing when he turned down a $12.6MM option with the Pacers in 2015, but he tells Chris Hayes of ESPN he doesn’t think he would still be playing without that decision. He signed a $1.4MM contract with the Spurs that year and has taken similar deals with the Warriors the past two seasons. “I would have retired, man,” West said. “That would have been it, because I wanted to compete for a championship. I needed to experience that. So, if I played out my contract there, that would have been it. I was walking away. I wanted to feel like I was playing for something.”
- After hitting a game-winning shot Monday, Clippers guard C.J. Williams has another important occasion coming up, notes Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Playing on a two-way contract, Williams has used 40 of his 45 allowable days in the NBA. Injuries have forced Williams into the rotation, as he has started 12 games and is averaging nearly 20 minutes per night. To keep him, the Clippers will have to sign him to a regular contract or a 10-day deal by the end of the week. “We’re going to start a ‘GoFundMe Fund’ for C.J.,” coach Doc Rivers joked after the game. “We need some donations.”