LaVar Ball

Pistons Notes: Doumbouya, LaVar, Sirvydis, Vet Leadership

Second-year Pistons forward Sekou Doumbouya had a stellar preseason turn in a 99-91 victory against the Knicks Sunday, reminding the Pistons faithful that the 19-year-old could be a key part of Detroit’s future, as Keith Langlois of Pistons.com details. Now just the third-youngest Pistons player, Doumbouya scored 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting, in addition to pulling down five rebounds and logging two dimes, in only 18 minutes.

“I came in and tried to help the team – that’s my job, to come off the bench, lock in and be ready to help the team,” Doumbouya said. He averaged 6.4 PPG and 3.1 RPG in 38 games for the Pistons during the 2019/20 season.

There’s more out of the Motor City:

  • In a Bleacher Report Ask Me Anything conversation yesterday, the outspoken LaVar Ball was true to form, ripping the Pistons for recently waiving middle son LiAngelo Ball. The Pistons had signed LiAngelo to an Exhibit 10 training camp contract. “I love the fans, but the franchise over there is raggedy as hell,” the elder Ball said. “They don’t know a good player. I was giving them a [l]ottery pick for free!” LiAngelo went undrafted out of UCLA in 2018.
  • Pistons rookie swingman Deividas Sirvydis has arrived in Detroit, per Rod Beard of the Detroit News (Twitter link). The 20-year-old will need to clear COVID-19 testing protocol, according to Pistons head coach Dwane Casey, and may be ready to join his teammates in a practice this Thursday or Friday.
  • Two former All-Stars can supply valuable leadership for a young Pistons team in transition, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. Savvy veterans Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin, who have logged significant playoff minutes, can help inform the Pistons’ future leaders and build the current culture. “They’re great pros, big-time pros,” Casey said. “We’re being sensible about our program and what we’re building. It’s not going to happen overnight – I know that and they know that. It’s not like they’re fighting for star status. They’ve been there.

And-Ones: India, Johnson, Robinson, Ball

Commissioner Adam Silver would like to start a professional basketball league in India, perhaps in the next five years, Marc Spears of ESPN reports. India would have to build state-of-the-art arenas to make that happen. The NBA had to make numerous additions — including seats, big video screens and lights — to stage a preseason game there between the Kings and Pacers on Friday.

“I think it’s inevitable that there will be state-of-the-art arenas in major cities in India, in part because these are multi-use facilities and live entertainment is increasingly important here as well. … We do need to see those arenas over time in order to play more games,” Silver said.

There’s growing interest in the league in India and its youngsters are harboring NBA dreams, Reid Forgrave of the New York Times reports.

We have more from the basketball world:

  • Joe Johnson is fighting for a roster spot with the Pistons and the veteran forward hopes other players can use the BIG3 as a springboard to relaunch their careers, Eric Woodyard of ESPN writes. “That was another reason why I thought it was very important for me to take this opportunity, because those guys in the BIG3, a lot of them anyway, have hopes to at some point to be able to get back in the league,” said Johnson, who signed a partially guaranteed contract with Detroit. “So I just wanted to let everyone know that it’s possible just to get to this point.” Johnson was the BIG3 MVP this year.
  • Former NBA forward Thomas Robinson has drawn major interest from two Chinese teams, Zhejiang Guangsha and Liaoning, according to a report from Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia. The 2012 lottery pick last played in the NBA during the 2016/17 season, when he saw action in 48 games with the Lakers.
  • Big Baller Brand co-founder Alan Foster has countersued Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball and his father, LaVar Ball, for alleged fraudulent concealment and breach of contract, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. Foster alleges that LaVar Ball embezzled more than $2.6MM from Big Baller Brand and other companies associated with the family to fund an extravagant lifestyle. The Balls sued Foster in April for more than $2MM for alleged embezzlement.

More On Anthony Davis-To-Lakers Trade Agreement

Just days after the NBA Finals and less than a week before the annual draft, the Pelicans and Lakers shook up the basketball world with one of the biggest blockbusters in league history. New Orleans agreed to trade disgruntled superstar Anthony Davis to the Lakers for guards Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart, forward Brandon Ingram and three first-round picks, including the No. 4 overall pick in this year’s draft.

We have more details and developments regarding the trade, which can’t be made official until next month.

  • The other two first-rounders the Pelicans will receive are a 9-30 protected pick in 2021 – which subsequently becomes unprotected in 2022 – and an unprotected pick in 2024. New Orleans will also have the right to swap unprotected first-rounders in 2o23 and will have the option to defer the 2024 pick until 2025, according to reports from Tim Bontemps of ESPN and Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter links).
  • The Pelicans are already receiving significant interest in the fourth overall pick, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.
  • Ingram is expected to get back on the court next month and be ready for training camp, according to Wojnarowski. He did not play after March 2 due to a blood clot in his right shoulder.
  • ESPN Jonathan Givony updated his mock draft in the aftermath of the deal, with Texas Tech shooting guard  Jarrett Culver going to New Orleans at No. 4, Vanderbilt guard Darius Garland heading to the Cavaliers at No. 5, North Carolina shooting guard  Coby White ticketed to the Suns at No. 6 and Virginia power forward  De’Andre Hunter winding up with the Bulls at No. 7 (Twitter link).
  • Former Lakers president Magic Johnson, who called GM Rob Pelinka a backstabber in a recent TV interview, praised his former front office partner after the deal. Johnson tweeted, “Great trade Rob Pelinka! Job well done.”
  • The Celtics’ chances of re-signing free-agent-to-be Kyrie Irving took a major hit with Davis heading to L.A. instead of Boston, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated tweets.
  • New Orleans will have $18.8MM in cap space after the trade is finalized, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets.
  • LaVar Ball, Lonzo’s outspoken father, called the trade “the worst move the Lakers ever did in their life” and guarantees they won’t win another championship, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN tweets.

Lonzo Ball Passed On Ankle Surgery After Lakers’ Threat

Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball nearly underwent an unauthorized procedure on his left ankle procedure before the organization threatened to void his rookie contract, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports.

The drama occurred in late February with Ball travelling to Ohio to undergo the surgery before the Lakers’ brass talked him out of it. Owner Jeanie Buss sent a plane to Ohio to pick up Ball and bring him back to Los Angeles, Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times tweets.

The surgery was planned by Ball’s estranged former business partner Alan Foster and with knowledge of his outspoken father, LaVar Ball, Charania continues. The Ball family was familiar with the Ohio surgeon since the doctor had previously operated on Lonzo’s younger brother LiAngelo Ball.

Lonzo Ball notified GM Rob Pelinka about his plans and at that point the organization told him they could void his contract if he underwent the procedure, Charania adds.

Pelinka and team president Magic Johnson, who stepped down this week, worked in tandem with Ball’s now former agent Harrison Gaines to change his mind about the surgical procedure.

Ball suffered a Grade 3 ankle sprain on January 19 and missed the remainder of the season. Once Ball returned to Los Angeles, Johnson and Pelinka spent time with him at doctor appointments to make sure he followed the team’s rehab plan, according to Charania.

Ball is suing Foster, the former co-founder and manager of Big Baller Brand, for damages of more than $2MM. The suit alleges that Foster embezzled millions of dollars from the company for his personal use. He also parted ways with Gaines this month and hired Creative Artists Agency to represent him.

Lonzo Ball Chooses CAA To Represent Him

Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball has hired Creative Artists Agency after mutually parting ways with previous agent Harrison Gaines last week, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN reports.

Ball claims that his decision to cut ties with Gaines had nothing to do with his issues concerning Big Baller Brand co-founder Alan Foster. Ball sued Foster for an excess of $2MM, alleging Foster embezzled millions of dollars from the company for personal use.

CAA represents many high profile actors, actresses and musicians. John Calipari and Tony Parker are the two of the most well-known basketball clients.

Ball’s father, LaVar Ball, has had discussions with CAA and other agencies as well. It remains unclear how Big Baller Brand will move forward, Shelburne adds.

“After thinking about this decision over the last few weeks, I concluded that CAA made the most sense for my career both on and off the court,” Ball said in a statement.

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.

Trade Rumors: Davis, Hill, Ball, Mavs, Favors

One key to an Anthony Davis trade is whether the Pelicans can acquire a player with All-NBA potential as part of the package. That’s among the priorities for New Orleans’ front office, which is also seeking young talent, draft picks and salary-cap relief for Davis, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. If the Pelicans view Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma or Lonzo Ball as that type of player — all of whom are rumored to be in the latest offer from the Lakers — that would increase the possibility of Davis going to Los Angeles. If New Orleans sees that potential in the Celtics’ Jayson Tatum, the team may wait until the offseason, when Boston has the freedom to trade for Davis.

We have more trade buzz from around the league:

  • The Pelicans are hoping to dump Solomon Hill‘s contract in any trade involving Davis and if the Lakers were to acquire him, they would use the stretch provision on his contract, Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Hill is making $12.52MM this season with another guaranteed $12.76MM next season. That three-year stretch would count as $4,257,927 annually and the Lakers would also have an empty roster charge of $897,158 added during the offseason if they waived him, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets.
  • Lonzo Ball‘s outspoken father is at it again, telling ESPN that if his son gets traded, he wants him to land with the Suns, Ohm Youngmisuk tweets. “We want to be in LA. But if he’s traded, I don’t want Lonzo in New Orleans,” LaVar Ball said. “Phoenix is the best fit for him. And I am going to speak it into existence.”
  • In the aftermath of the blockbuster deal with the Knicks for Kristaps Porzingis, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says the team is laying low prior to Thursday’s trade deadline, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News tweets. “We’re not actively pursuing anything,” Cuban said.
  • The Wizards have significant interest in Jazz forward Derrick Favors, according to Tony Jones of The Athletic. Favors has been rumored to be part of the package Utah would send to the Grizzlies for Mike Conley. The Jazz are also interested in Otto Porter Jr. and Washington would want Favors in any deal involving its small forward, Jones adds. However, the Wizards are considered unlikely to move Porter this week.

Lakers Notes: Ball Family, Allen, Workouts

LiAngelo Ball, the younger brother of Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball, will take part in a pre-draft workout with the team on Tuesday, per ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk. St. Bonaventure’s Jaylen Adams, UCLA’s Thomas Welsh, Virginia’s Devon Hall, Syracuse’s Tyus Battle and Arizona’s Dusan Ristic are also scheduled for the workout.

LiAngelo returned to the United States recently after completing his first professional season overseas with Vytautas Prienu of the Lithuanian league. He averaged 12.6 PPG during his stint. LiAngelo’s year got off to a rough start after he was arrested in China along with two other UCLA teammates on suspicion of shoplifting. Following his release, LiAngelo left the NCAA and, along with younger brother LaMelo, signed contracts with Vytautas.

“The Lakers are my priority, for sure,” LiAngelo said during a recent appearance on the Marcellus and Travis show on ESPNLA radio. “I want to play with my brother. Ever since I played with Zo, we went undefeated. When we get older, we will get stronger, faster and a better feel for the game. I’m willing to play for other teams, but my priority is to play with my brother.”

Check out more Lakers notes below:

  • LaVar Ball, the patriarch of the Ball family, has never been shy to speak his mind when it comes to his sons and his latest comments are no different. During an interview with Hoops Hype’s Alex Kennedy, LaVar said that Lonzo’s health was compromised due to the Lakers’ training tactics. “My expectation for Lonzo is for him to be twice as good as he was this year, and to be more healthy,” he said. “He understands, he went through it. If you’re going to be doing those [workouts with] rubber-bands like that dude Gunnar has him doing, that [is] bulls–t training. That’s what I call it. S–t, he wasn’t like that when I brought him over there. When he first came [to the Lakers], he never got hurt. He was never hurt.”
  • Duke’s Grayson Allen, one of the more controversial players in this year’s NBA Draft, has shown on-court potential but his composure and attitude have long been questioned. Allen worked out for the Lakers on Friday and Bill Oram of the Orange County Register examined a potential fit between L.A. and the sharpshooting Blue Devil.
  • In addition to Allen, here is the latest list of players to have participated in pre-draft workouts for the Lakers.

Pacific Notes: Kokoskov, Suns, Ball, Buss

Igor Kokoskov is set to become the Suns‘ next head coach and it is just the latest chapter in his legacy which has been defined by breaking barriers,  NBA.com’s Cody Cunningham writes.

A car accident ended Kokoskov’s playing career, but it allowed him to move into a coaching role. Soon after, he became the youngest coach in Yugoslavian basketball history. Not long after that, Kokoskov became the first non-American assistant coach to win an NBA championship as part of the 2004 Pistons.

Since then, Kokoskov enjoyed a successful run under his mentor Alvin Gentry — the former Suns coach and current Pelicans coach — during his first stint in Phoenix. Kokoskov went on to enjoy international coaching success, most prominently leading Slovenia to a first-place finish at FIBA EuroBasket 2017. He will be the first non-American head coach in NBA history and it’s something Gentry feels he’s ready for.

“He’s had some great head coaching experience internationally,” Gentry told 98.7 FM’s Arizona Sports Station. “I think he’s very much ready to be a head coach. I think he understands the game, (he’s) got great personal relationships with the players … he’s got great temperament. I think he would be a great choice.”

Check out more Pacific Division notes below:

  • While the hiring of Kokoskov has led to speculation that the Suns are eyeing Slovenian prospect Luka Doncic with their lottery pick, GM Ryan McDonough dismissed the idea that Phoenix is locked in on Doncic. “It’s an easy assumption to make, but we’re going to draft whoever we think the best player is,” McDonough said, according to Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic. “If we do get the No. 1 pick, Doncic will certainly be in that mix. But [Deandre] Ayton and a few other guys will, as well.”
  • LaVar Ball, the father of Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball, is back in the United States after younger sons LiAngelo and LaMelo wrapped up their first professional season in Lithuania. The elder Ball has been quiet since returning but if history is any indicator, it’s only a matter of time before he’s making headlines again, Martin Rogers of USA TODAY Sports writes.
  • The Lakers‘ season ended early once again this season and now the team prepares for free agency and the draft. Assistant general manager, Jesse Buss, the youngest of all the Buss siblings, will be an important factor in the team’s draft plans, as Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report writes.
  • As we noted yesterday, there are indications that the Clippers and Doc Rivers have agreed to an extension to keep him in his role as the team’s head coach.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

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.