Lonzo Ball

Pacific Notes: James, Durant, Morant, Ball

It’s in the best interest of the Lakers to give LeBron James input on all decisions, Frank Isola of The Athletic opines. While the Lakers don’t normally take that approach with a star player, no one running the club has proven they can build a winner, Isola notes. When they signed James last summer, they knew they had to let his voice be heard, Isola continues. The expected hiring of his former head coach in Cleveland, Tyronn Lue, is an example of James’ already exhibiting his influence, Isola adds.

We have more from around the Pacific Division:

  • Kevin Durant‘s praise of Monty Williams has led to speculation that the Warriors star might consider the Suns in free agency, Jeremy Cluff of Arizona Republic writes. While Cluff acknowledges that scenario is unlikely, Durant gushed about Williams’ character and coaching ability. “He’s a leader and a teacher,” Durant recently told the media. “I’m excited he’s back into coaching and walking those sidelines again. … Especially when you’re talking to him on the basketball court, you have a group of guys that will get better.” Williams was an assistant with the Thunder during the 2015/16 season when Durant played there.
  • Numerous draft pundits and NBA analysts believe Ja Morant would be a perfect fit for the Suns, Cluff relays in a separate story. The Murray State point guard is expected to be a top-three selection and Phoenix has an obvious need for a floor leader.
  • Lonzo Ball said that former business manager and Big Baller Brand co-founder Alan Foster took advantage of his mother’s illness for financial gain, Arthur Weinstein of Sports Illustrated relays. Ball said on James’ TV show ‘The Shop’ that Foster took over the family’s finances after Tina Ball suffered a stroke two years ago. Ball sued Foster last month for more than $2MM in damages, claiming that Foster embezzled $1.5MM from his personal and business accounts.

And-Ones: Early Entrants, Ball, Pierce, Diaw

After releasing a 233-player list of early entrants for the 2019 NBA draft on Tuesday, the league followed up today by adding a few more names to that list. According to an announcement from the league, “timely letters” were received from three more prospects who declared for the draft. Those players are as follows:

Leading up to the early entry deadline, there were reports that Cham, Lamb, and Sneed all intended to enter the draft, so it was a little surprising not to see them on the NBA’s official list this week. They’re on there now though, and the additions of those three names mean that this year’s early entrant total is up to 236 players, matching a record set in 2018.

As we noted on Tuesday, there were still several players who reportedly intended to declare for the draft as early entrants and aren’t on the NBA’s list, so they either had second thoughts or missed the deadline. The next deadline will arrive on May 29, when NCAA prospects will have to either withdraw from this year’s draft pool or officially forfeit their remaining college eligibility.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Alan Foster, a former associate of Lonzo Ball and the Ball family, is under FBI investigation, according to a report from Tania Ganguli and Richard Winton of The Los Angeles Times. The Bureau is looking into whether Foster defrauded the Ball family out of millions of dollars, according to Ganguli and Winton, who say the investigation has been going on for more than two months. Foster was already facing a lawsuit accusing him of embezzling over $2MM from Big Baller Brand for his personal use.
  • Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce has taken the place of Pacers head coach Nate McMillan as an assistant on Team USA’s coaching staff for 2019/20, according to a press release. McMillan withdrew due to scheduling conflicts, opening the door for Pierce to claim a spot on Gregg Popovich’s staff for the 2019 World Cup and the 2020 Olympics.
  • Longtime NBA forward Boris Diaw is reportedly poised to take over as the president of French team Levallois Metropolitans. The news was reported by Le Parisien, and relayed by Sportando and Eurohoops. Assuming it becomes official, Diaw will become the second notable NBA player to assume the role of team president for a French club, joining former teammate Tony Parker, who runs ASVEL Villeurbanne.

Bulls Rumors: Ball, Ellington, I. Smith, Point Guards

The Bulls figure to cast a wide net as they seek out point guard help this summer, as it’s the position most in need of an upgrade on their roster. In fact, Chicago has already had at least one interesting discussion involving a point guard this year.

An NBA executive tells Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times that the Bulls and Lakers had “initial conversations” about Lonzo Ball after Ball’s camp leaked that Chicago would be on the point guard’s list of preferred destinations if he were traded.

It’s not clear whether those in-season discussions went anywhere or if either team plans on revisiting them this summer, but it’s a signal that the Bulls figure to explore plenty of options as they consider how to fortify their point guard position.

Here’s more out of Chicago:

  • According to one scout, the Bulls have “taken interest” in the Pistons’ roster, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times, adding that the club likes Wayne Ellington‘s shooting and Ish Smith‘s ability to run a team. Both veterans will be free agents this offseason.
  • While he recognizes that the Bulls aren’t likely to be major players for top free agents this year, executive VP of basketball operations John Paxson believes Chicago is on the right track to eventually become an attractive destination again, as Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago relays. “I do think that when you establish yourself, which we’re trying to do right now as a relevant team again, and as we get better positioning ourselves to have money when guys come up in the future, I think this will be a destination place,” Paxson said last week. “But we have to get better. That’s the thing. We have to get to a point where we are playing for important things. But our young guys have to develop into the type of players that other guys want to play with. And I think we have a couple guys right now on the roster and hopefully we’ll have more in the future.”
  • Mark Schanowski of NBC Sports Chicago takes a closer look at the Bulls’ roster by position, identifying which players are likely – or unlikely – to return, and reiterating that point guard tops the club’s list of offseason needs.

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 Says He’s In Charge Of Hiring Agent, Business Decisions

After a recent report that his father is exploring finding a new agent, Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball has confirmed he is taking the lead on his career moves, Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times reports.

As we relayed on Friday, Ball, 21, parted ways with longtime agent Harrison GainesESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported that the split between Ball and Gaines was a mutual decision, unrelated to the recent lawsuit filed against Big Baller Brand co-founder Alan Foster.

“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.”

Per a report from Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, Ball was contacted by several agents to gauge his interest but most steered clear once his father, LaVar Ball, seemed to remain a focal point. Among LaVar’s inquiries included seeing if any agents could have the power to put his three sons – Lonzo, LiAngelo Ball, and LaMelo Ball – on the same NBA team.

However, as Ganguli writes, Ball confirmed that “he alone will make his business decisions” and responded to the notion that his father is involved with a clear “no.”

Ball has not suited up since January 19 due to an ankle ailment, shortening his second consecutive campaign due to injury. However, 2019 remains a noteworthy year for Ball, who was at the forefront of the Anthony Davis trade rumors and is now also in the market for a new shoe deal.

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.

Lakers Notes: Buss, Walton, Ball, Offseason

Appearing as a guest on the Sports Business Radio Road Show on Tuesday, Lakers owner Jeanie Buss was noncommittal when asked about head coach Luke Walton‘s future, as Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com details.

“I’m not going to give you the answer to that question,” Buss replied when asked about the possibility of Walton staying on as the Lakers’ coach.

Buss has long been considered one of Walton’s biggest supporters, and praised him again during her latest podcast appearance, suggesting that he has “done an incredible job under a lot of challenging circumstances.” However, the decision on Walton’s future will likely be made by president of basketball operations Magic Johnson, writes McMenamin.

“In terms of basketball decisions, I will always defer to Magic,” Buss said. “He’s brought a vision of the kind of team we’re going to build and a vision of what Lakers basketball is going to be. And I think you can see that. But we’re still building that roster that will get us there.”

Let’s round up a few more Lakers notes…

  • Here’s more from Buss – via McMenamin – on her relationship with Johnson, as well as the Lakers’ future: “We’re as tight as any two people, any two executives. And we have a mission and a purpose of what we want to do, and we’re not done yet. But I think we’re going in the right direction.”
  • Lakers guard Lonzo Ball has filed a lawsuit against Alan Foster, the former co-founder and manager of Big Baller Brand, for damages of more than $2MM, plus interest, reports ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. The suit alleges that Foster embezzled millions of dollars from the company for his personal use.
  • Sean Deveney of Sporting News previews the Lakers’ upcoming offseason, exploring a familiar question: Will the team be able to find a star player to pair with LeBron James?
  • For more on the Lakers, be sure to check out their Hoops Rumors team page.

Lakers Talked To Lonzo Ball About Changing Shoes

Lonzo Ball and his family have been the most visible representatives of Big Baller Brand, but the Lakers expressed concern that BBB shoes might be responsible for Ball’s frequent ankle injuries, according to Ramona Shelburne and Paula Lavigne of ESPN.

Ball has been sidelined since hurting his ankle on January 19 and was ultimately shut down for the rest of the season with a Grade 3 ankle sprain and a bone bruise. It’s the third ankle injury in two NBA seasons for Ball, who played just 47 games this season and 52 last year.

“Yeah, they talked to me,” Ball said of Lakers management. “They asked me about it, and I told ’em, ‘I feel comfortable.’ If I wasn’t comfortable, I wouldn’t play in ’em. If I didn’t play in [his signature BBB shoes], I’d play in Kobe [Bryant’s signature Nike shoe]. I work out in [LeBron James‘ signature Nike shoe], but that’s because they’re heavier.”

Ball told the Lakers he was willing to make adjustments to his Big Baller shoes, but said he meant “just minor things.”

The Lakers also reached out to Alan Foster, a partial owner of Big Baller Brand, about customer complaints to the Better Business Bureau, the ESPN story states. The company received a failing grade from the bureau in 2018 because of 184 consumer complaints, mostly related to shipping issues.

“They still have an F with us,” Blair Looney, president of the Better Business Bureau of Central California and Inland Empire Counties, told ESPN. “We are continuing to work with them on straightening things out.”

The information about the Lakers is contained in a larger story about Ball ending his relationship with Foster, the family’s former business manager, over concerns about a criminal past and his inability to account for $1.5MM.

Lakers Notes: Ball, Trades, Walton

Before finding himself sidelined for the remainder of the season, Lonzo Ball showcased his ability on defense, something that’s winning over some of his doubters.

“He’s an impact player on that side of the ball,” a Western Conference executive tells Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. “I’m surprised he’s that good defensively. Coming out of UCLA, that was a question.”

Pincus notes that Ball and LeBron James shared the floor in 34 games this season, winning 20 of those contests. Over a full season, that pace would put the Lakers in the middle of the playoff picture instead of the gutter where Los Angeles currently resides.

The defense is there but the offense is still a work in progress for Ball. Pincus argues the point guard must add a reliable three-pointer to his arsenal in order to take the next step in the evolution in his game.

Here’s more from Los Angeles:

  • Ball seems destined to be included in an Anthony Davis-to the-Lakers trade, but if that deal never occurs, the point guard would fit well alongside a potential free agent signing such as Kyrie Irving, Pincus argues (in the same piece). Ball has the size to guard opposing shooting guards, which would take a burden off of someone like Irving.
  • Poor shooting is the Lakers‘ biggest issue, Bill Oram of The Athletic contends. The front office attempted to correct this deficiency at the trade deadline by acquiring Reggie Bullock and Mike Muscala in a pair of deals. Bullock has made just 39.2% of his shots from behind the arc since coming to the Lakers. Muscala has made just 26.3% while barely seeing the floor.
  • Luke Walton will likely take the fall for the Lakers‘ struggles this season but Oram (in the same piece) argues that the coach is putting players in position to be successful. The team is making just 35.5% of “wide open” three-pointers, which ranks last in the league.“ We’ve had so many 3s where it could be dagger [and force] timeouts,” Rondo said. “We haven’t capitalized on those yet.”