Basketball patriarch LaVar Ball might be thousands of miles away from Los Angeles, but he’s still firing away at the franchise.
Ball issued an ultimatum to the team today through the Lithuanian press: His son, rookie point guard Lonzo Ball, will walk away from the team when he’s eligible for free agency unless brothers LiAngelo and LaMelo join him on the Lakers.
The younger Balls currently play for Prienu Vytautas in the Lithuanian League (LKL), a minor team in that country, and not exactly tearing it up.
“I want all three boys to play for the Lakers,” LaVar said in conversation with Lithuanian sports writer Donatas Urbonas. “But if that does not happen, I’m telling you the story what’s gonna happen first. If they don’t take Gelo this year, I bring back Gelo here to play with Melo for two years. Lonzo will be on his third year, and I let every NBA team know that Lonzo is not going to re-sign with the Lakers but will go to any team that will take all of my three boys. That’s my plan.”
Getting all three Balls on the same team might be problematic for the Lakers. LiAngelo is considered a minor talent, while LaMelo is just 16 years old and has just a couple years of high school basketball experience. LiAngelo is eligible to be drafted or signed next year, but LaMelo still has years before he could join the NBA.
Also complicating LaVar’s master plan is the fact that Lonzo Ball needs three more seasons beyond this one to be a free agent, and then he would be restricted — meaning the Lakers could match any other team’s offer.
The broadside is the latest from the colorful LaVar, whose outspoken persona has rubbed many NBA lifers the wrong way. In January, he went after Lakers coach Luke Walton, claiming he had lost the team.
“We don’t have to go [to] any draft,” LaVar said. “Just sign [them] in free agency. You don’t have to give Gelo $15 million. So now you win championship after championship on [the] fact my boys will never leave. That’s what I mean: championship, championship, championship. But what’s better than three Ball boys together? The Big Three. That’s the original Big Three.”
The Lakers have not responded to Ball’s comments.