LaMelo Ball

And-Ones: LaMelo Ball, Brooks, De Colo, Black

Like fellow 2020 prospect R.J. Hampton, LaMelo Ball will play in Australia’s NBL next season. After announcing his decision on ESPN’s The Jump on Monday (link via ESPN’s Jonathan Givony), Ball made it official, signing with the Illawarra Hawks for the 2019/20 season. According to Givony, Ball signed a two-year contract, but it has NBA out clauses.

Having spent a year playing in Lithuania, Ball was unlikely to be cleared to play for an NCAA program anyway, but he’s still the second potential 2020 first-round pick to join the NBL for the coming season. LaMelo, who is Lonzo Ball‘s younger brother, is ranked by ESPN as the No. 21 prospect in next year’s draft class.

“My agents did a ton of research on the options I had to play this coming season, and Australia really made sense for me,” Ball told ESPN. “They have a really strong league, with excellent coaches and great players, including former and future NBA players, and great strength and conditioning programs. My goal is to be the top pick in next year’s draft, and I feel they can help me reach that goal. Also, the timing of the season works well with the timing of next year’s draft.”

Meanwhile, the Illawarra Hawks also appear poised to add a former NBA guard to their roster, as Lachy Reid of Channel Ten and Olgun Uluc of FOX Sports Australia (Twitter links) report that Aaron Brooks is set to join the Australian club (hat tip to Sportando). Brooks, a longtime NBA point guard, last played in the league in 2017/18 when he appeared in 32 games for the Timberwolves.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

Lonzo Ball Parts Ways With Agent

An ankle injury has sidelined Lonzo Ball since January 19, but 2019 has still been an eventful year so far for the Lakers point guard. After filing suit against Big Baller Brand co-founder Alan Foster, Ball has now parted ways with longtime agent Harrison Gaines, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, who classifies the split as a mutual decision.

“Harrison Gaines has been a trusted advisor and close friend for many years,” Ball said in a statement to ESPN. “He guided my NBA career with integrity and always had my best interests at heart.”

Despite the timing, Ball said that the decision to move on from Gaines was unrelated to the dispute with Foster. According to Ball, Gaines “always had my back,” and their relationship “will always be bigger than basketball,” as Shelburne relays.

With Gaines no longer in the picture, Ball is in the market for new representation, and multiple agents have reached out to gauge his interest, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. However, Haynes says that most of those agents “became uninterested” once they were notified that LaVar Ball is still very much involved in his son’s decisions.

As Haynes details, LaVar has met with a few NBA agents on behalf of Lonzo, and CAA is currently viewed as the favorite to represent the former No. 2 overall pick. Still, there are concerns about LaVar’s ongoing involvement and the family’s financial standing in regard to Big Baller Brand, sources tell Haynes.

Haynes’ report also notes that LaVar has been inquiring with agencies on whether they have the power to put his three sons – Lonzo, LiAngelo Ball, and LaMelo Ball – on the same NBA team. There would be multiple roadblocks in the way of such a plan, not least of which is the fact that LiAngelo is not considered an NBA-caliber player.

In addition to dealing with LaVar and the Ball family, Lonzo’s next agent figures to be instrumental in trying to secure a new shoe endorsement deal for the point guard, Haynes notes. Lonzo’s on-court future remains uncertain as well, as he could once again be at the center of trade talks this offseason if and when the Lakers re-engage the Pelicans on Anthony Davis.

And-Ones: Ball Brothers, Payton, G. Green, Draft

Lonzo Ball‘s younger brothers are set to remain stateside after spending a portion of the 2017/18 season in Lithuania. Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link) reported earlier this week that LiAngelo Ball has let G League teams know of his intent to sign a contract with the league. The NBAGL formally notifies its teams when a player enters the player pool, and as of this afternoon, there had been no official word on Ball, per Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days (Twitter link). Still, that should happen soon.

Meanwhile, LaMelo Ball, the younger brother of Lonzo and LiAngelo, told Franklyn Calle of Slam that he’ll play high school ball this season. LaMelo, who said that he’s “excited” to return to high school for his senior year, is enrolling at prep school Spire Institute in Geneva, Ohio, according to Calle.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Elfrid Payton‘s one-year, $3MM contract with the Pelicans was hardly one of the summer’s major deals, but New Orleans has badly missed Payton while he has been sidelined with an ankle injury. Scott Kushner of The Advocate has the story on the point guard, who was injured during the Pelicans’ first loss of the season and has seen his team go 1-5 since then.
  • After being in camp with the Pelicans this fall, Garlon Green has signed with Russian club Khimki, according to an official announcement from the team (hat tip to Sportando). Green, the younger brother of Rockets swingman Gerald Green, was waived by New Orleans along with Jarrett Jack at the end of the preseason.
  • With the 2018/19 NCAA season underway, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today has published his first NBA mock draft for 2019. Meanwhile, Alberto De Roa of HoopsHype identifies several of the top international prospects who could declare for the 2019 draft.

And-Ones: G League Mini Camp, Combine, Balls

A number of NBA players with recent big league experience have been named to the G League’s Elite Mini Camp roster. In mid-May, about 40 players from the developmental league will get the chance to strut their stuff in front of NBA personnel.

A total of 13 players from the initial roster have had at least some NBA experience, including the always intriguing likes of K.J. McDaniels and Archie Goodwin.

Other players, like Marcus Thornton and Naz Mitrou-Long who signed 10-day contracts in 2017/18 will look to prove that they deserve another crack at a rotation spot.

While it will be tough for a significant number of these players to make final rosters next season, there are plenty of opportunities between training camp and the regular season, especially now with the introduction of two-way contracts last season.

Jonathon Simmons, the G League is quick to mention, once participated in this event, prior to latching on with the Spurs and spinning that into a role with the Magic last summer.

There’s more from around the league this afternoon:

  • While it’s become commonplace for highly regarded draft prospects to skip out on the combine, a number of reputable players from last year’s class were in attendance, including Donovan Mitchell and Bam Adebayo. Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype broke down some of the best players from this year’s rookie crop that are actually expected to participate in the pre-draft event later this month.
  • The dust has settled after LaVar Ball‘s decision to move his non-Lonzo sons to Lithuania. According to Donatas Urbonas of 15min.It, LiAngelo Ball may have been slightly underrated prior to arriving in Europe while LaMelo Ball isn’t prepared to perform at the pro level yet. Urbonas connected with USA Today’s Andrew Joseph to discuss the Ball family’s Lithuanian adventure.
  • The NBA offseason is a lot closer than you might think. In fact, players like Cory Joseph and Wesley Johnson have already made key decisions on contract options for the 2018/19 campaign. For a rundown of what we expect from each team’s pending free agents, check out your respective team’s recap in our Free Agent Stock Watch series. Similarly, Hoops Rumors writers have ranked who we think the top available 2018 NBA free agents are.

And-Ones: Rice Commission, Ball Brothers, Chang

Earlier today, we relayed that the the Commission on College Basketball, headed by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, released a detailed 60-page report in response to a request by the NCAA for sweeping reforms of college basketball.

In an in-depth article for ESPN, college basketball reporters Jeff Borzello and Myron Metcalf, along with NBA draft analyst Jonathan Givony, gave their two cents on what the report means for the future of college basketball and, for our purposes, the NBA.

As part of what is most likely the most relevant portion of the article for our readers, Givony blasts the commission for “washing its hands” of any real responsibility and repeatedly blaming the NBA’s one-and-done rule for the problems in college basketball.

“Abolishing the NBA age limit, also known as the one-and-done rule, is the commission’s first recommendation… The insistence on prioritizing this topic over a myriad of others is an indication of how much the commission is washing its hands of any real responsibility for the issues facing college basketball.

“It’s preposterous to think that abolishing the one-and-done rule will fix all of college basketball’s problems. The much bigger issue is not allowing players to profit from their likeness, receive endorsement deals or be properly compensated by schools for the huge amount of money they generate — one the commission conveniently deflected, citing ongoing litigation and other issues.”

One potential consequence of the NBA not eliminating the one-and-done rule is for the NCAA to revisit “freshman ineligibility,” which Metcalf wholeheartedly disagreed with.

“This doesn’t make sense. So you want players who aren’t drafted to retain their collegiate eligibility and scholarships, but you’re also willing to put talented high school kids in a situation where they might not be allowed to enter the NBA draft or play for a college team as freshmen?

“This is worst stickup in sports history. The NBA doesn’t have to listen to the NCAA. That’s why they’ve had the age limit for more than a decade, despite complaints from many collegiate power brokers.”

Other topics broached include allowing undrafted players to return to school, harsher punishment for rule breakers, and the influence of AAU and other recruiting enterprises. The entire article is well-done and worth a read.

Below are more odds and ends from around the world of basketball:

  • Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball‘s younger brothers, LiAngelo Ball and LaMelo Ball, will leave their team in Lithuania before season’s end, reports Lithuanian basketball reporter Donatas Urbonas. BC Vytautas still has two regular seasons games left to play and they are fighting to avoid relegation.
  • The NBA has appointed Derek Chang as CEO of NBA China reports Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. Chang will oversee the NBA’s basketball and business development in China.
  • With the NBA Draft early entry deadline now behind us, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders gives us a look at his mock draft. Like many others, he has Arizona freshman DeAndre Ayton going No. 1 overall.

And-Ones: Ball Family, Durant, Early, Tanking

Both LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball are set to play for the Lithuanian team Vytautas Prienai starting next year and the marketing campaign behind the brothers is not far behind. The Balls’ new team has shipped jerseys of the brothers to the United States and they will be available for purchase on Amazon soon after the new year, Shams Charania of The Vertical reports.

Vytautas has shipped 500 jerseys (half for each brother) to an Amazon warehouse and more will be shipped in the first week of January. LiAngelo, 19, and LaMelo, 16, have provided branding to facilitate the marketing deal, Charania writes.

The brothers’ outspoken father, LaVar Ball, has captured headlines across the basketball world for the better part of two years, advocating for his sons and their basketball futures. Lonzo Ball is currently in his rookie season with the Lakers but his two siblings will have to pursue NBA careers differently. LaMelo was taken out of Chino Hills High School and homeschooled before signing with Vytautas; LiAngelo was enrolled in UCLA before he was arrested for shoplifting in China. Shortly after returning to the United States, LiAngelo left UCLA to pursue his professional career.

Check out other news from the basketball world below:

  • Former Knicks player Cleanthony Early was traded in the G League last week, going from the Santa Cruz Warriors to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, per Nicola Lupo of Sportando. Early, 26, last appeared in the NBA during the 2015/16 season. He was averaging  13.9 PPG, 6.4 RPG and 2.6 APG with the Warriors at the time of the trade.
  • The NBA’s Last Two Minute Report from Christmas Day’s matchup between the Warriors and Cavaliers revealed that Kevin Durant fouled LeBron James multiple times during the final possession of the game.
  • While teams have found success and results from prolonged stretches of losing seasons, the entire league suffers when teams decide to tank, ESPN’s Howard Bryant writes.

And-Ones: Referees, Baron Davis, Ball Brothers

Having become dissatisfied working with the NBA to moderate issues between referees and players, Lee Seham, the general counsel for the National Basketball Referees Association recently met with NBPA executive director Michele Roberts to discuss those issues, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. After meeting at the players’ union’s Manhattan offices, Seham and Roberts plan to hold another informal sitdown at All-Star weekend in Los Angeles, which will include a few top referees and players.

As Wojnarowski details, both the referees’ union and players’ union have expressed concerns about how treatment from the other side — the NBRA believes that the league office has become too lenient in allowing players to verbally go after referees, while players are put off by what they view as dismissive or disrespectful reactions from refs when they ask about a call.

The NBA would ultimately need to sign off on any official changes to the way its referees are trained, or the way that disputes between players and refs are handled. However, if the referees’ and players’ unions can reach common ground on some of those issues, they’d have added leverage to take those suggestions to the league.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Ice Cube’s BIG3 basketball league has added another former NBA All-Star to its ranks, announcing this week in a press release that Baron Davis has signed with the BIG3 and will play for 3’s Company next season.Hearing about the fun they had this past summer really made me excited to suit up,” Davis said. “I have a lot of basketball left, and this is a great opportunity to fill that void I’ve been missing.”
  • In a fascinating piece for The Washington Post, Candance Buckner shines a light on some of the NBA’s behind-the-scenes power brokers, including a video game marketing director, a fashion designer, and a skills trainer.
  • How did LiAngelo Ball and LaMelo Ball end up landing with a little-known team in Lithuania? Andrew Keh of The New York Times takes a deep dive into the city of Prienai and its basketball club (Prienu Vytautas), which has already added five more people to its modest staff to help handle the increased marketing workload.

And-Ones: Ball Brothers, McDaniels, E. Okafor

Lithuanian team Prienu Vytautas made it official this week, announcing in a press release that they’ve signed LiAngelo Ball and LaMelo Ball, and expect Lonzo Ball‘s younger brothers to report to the team in early January. However, it’s not a long-term agreement. As Nicola Lupo details for Sportando, the deal for the two American teenagers includes a team opt-out after the first month, so it could end up being a brief experiment.

Still, Vytautas director Adomas Kubilius admits that he’s intrigued by exposure the Ball brothers will bring to the franchise, not to mention the potential financial benefits (Twitter link via Lithuanian journalist Donatas Urbonas). The club didn’t speak directly with its new players during negotiations, having worked things out with agent Harrison Gaines, but Kubilius suggests that – outside of guaranteed playing time – the Ball brothers didn’t make any major requests (Twitter link via Urbonas). And for what it’s worth, LaVar Ball would also be “warmly welcomed” in Prienai, according to the team (Twitter link).

As we wait to see how LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball adjust to Lithuania, let’s round up a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world….

  • Veteran swingman K.J. McDaniels has signed a G League contract and been claimed off waivers by the Grand Rapids Drive, the Pistons‘ affiliate, tweets Chris Reichert of 2 Ways & 10 Days. McDaniels, who spent time with the Nets and Rockets in 2016/17 and was in camp this fall with the Raptors, has averaged 5.3 PPG and 2.2 RPG in 148 total NBA games.
  • Bobby Marks’ latest piece for ESPN Insider is packed with team-by-team details on trade restrictions and notes that will be relevant as the February deadline approaches. Among the info Marks passes along: Which teams can only send or receive limited amounts of cash, which players can veto trades, and which can’t be traded until certain special dates.
  • Sean Deveney of The Sporting News examines the job security for head coaches around the NBA, concluding that Frank Vogel (Magic), Mike Budenholzer (Hawks), Dave Joerger (Kings), and Fred Hoiberg (Bulls) are among those whose seats are hottest.
  • Former second overall pick Emeka Okafor continues to try to make it back to the NBA, with Blake Murphy taking an in-depth look at the big man’s comeback efforts in an excellent piece for Uproxx.com.

And-Ones: Ball Brothers, Seattle, Mexico, World Cup

LiAngelo Ball and LaMelo Ball may end up playing together in Lithuania, according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Jonathan Givony of ESPN, who report that the Ball brothers are in “serious discussions” with Prienu Vytautas. The Lithuanian team intends to decide within the next day or two whether to officially sign Lonzo Ball‘s two younger brothers, sources tell Wojnarowski and Givony.

LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball, who are looking to play together for a professional team after officially hiring an agent and forgoing their NCAA eligibility, likely wouldn’t get a chance to play many minutes in the Lithuanian (LKL) league, per ESPN’s report. According to Wojnarowski and Givony, the Ball brothers would likely see more action – perhaps 20 to 25 minutes per game – in the less competitive Baltic League. As Givony tweets, the pay for the Balls would almost certainly be minimal, and the small Lithuanian town of Prienai would hardly be a “glamorous” place to continue their careers.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • TNT’s David Aldridge is the latest reporter to examine the possibility of the NBA returning to Seattle. While the city looks like a good bet to be awarded an NHL franchise, the NBA and its team owners are less gung-ho about the idea of expansion, according to Aldridge, who notes that team owners wouldn’t want to further split the money from the league’s $24 billion TV deal.
  • In a separate – and interesting – piece for NBA.com, Aldridge takes an in-depth look at the range of emotions experienced by NBA head coaches who get fired.
  • With the NBA making a concerted effort to grow its brand in Mexico, this season’s G League All-Star Game will be replaced by a contest that pits G League All-Stars against the Mexican national team, per The Associated Press.
  • FIBA officially announced on Monday that the 2023 Basketball World Cup will be staged in multiple countries, with Japan, Indonesia, and the Philippines earning hosting rights..

And-Ones: Top International Leagues, Seattle, Ball Brothers

While the NBA as a league is as popular as ever, the gap between the best league in the world and the plethora of international options is shrinking. ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla recently broke down the world’s top leagues in a must-read feature for any hoops fans curious about the basketball scene outside of the NBA.

Fraschilla ranks EuroLeague as the best non-NBA league. It’s the continent-wide league of top clubs from domestic leagues in countries like Spain and Turkey. The league is very financially stable, Fraschilla writes, noting that approximately 100 EuroLeague players are making as much or more money than the bottom 100 players in the NBA.

Fraschilla highlights Spain’s Liga ACB, the Turkish Basketball Super League and Russia’s VTB United League as the top pro leagues based in a single country.

Other leagues mentioned in the feature include Australia’s National Basketball League and the Chinese Basketball Association, both of which are growing in popularity of late.

There’s more from around the basketball world:

  • It’s official, Tim Leiweke‘s Oak View Group is investing to refurnish KeyArena in Seattle. Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports breaks down the latest in the pacific northwest city’s pursuit to reclaim an NBA franchise.
  • Professional basketball hasn’t always succeeded in Mexico. Most recently, Nathaniel Janowitz of ESPN writes, the Capitanes de Ciudad Mexico of the Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional have tried to win over hoops fans in the country’s capital.
  • Both LiAngelo Ball and LaMelo Ball have an agent, Jeff Goodman of ESPN writes, so neither will be eligible to play college basketball. As Bleacher Report’s David Pick writes, their chances of playing in a competitive league overseas aren’t exactly great either.