It’s hard to tell where it truly went wrong for LiAngelo Ball and his father’s master plan.
Maybe it was when he left the UCLA basketball team after being arrested in China for shoplifting. Maybe it was when he shot 24.3 percent from three-point range in Lithuania and left the team earlier than expected. Maybe it was when he worked out for only the Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors in the pre-draft process. Or maybe he was just never good enough at basketball to be drafted, as NBA executives believed.
Whatever the case, what happened is that LiAngelo Ball didn’t hear his named called during the 2018 NBA draft, despite the best efforts of some dedicated fans, and the 19-year-old will now move on to finding a team in free agency.
Ahead of the final pick in the draft, the 24 remaining fans launch an impassioned LiAngelo Ball chant pic.twitter.com/yvlWDu2r76
— Rodger Sherman (@rodger_sherman) June 22, 2018
LaVar Ball’s plan hits a snag
LiAngelo going undrafted was fairly predictable, except to LaVar Ball, the well-known family patriarch. You’d have been hard-pressed to find a scout who believed LiAngelo has a place in the NBA next season, considering he was ranked as just a three-star recruit by Rivals entering last season. That didn’t stop LaVar from laying out his master plan for his sons a few months ago though.
Essentially, the plan revolved around using Lonzo, the No. 2 overall selection in last year’s draft, as leverage to get the Lakers to pick up LiAngelo and LaMelo, the youngest son, and put all three brothers on their hometown team. If the Lakers didn’t take LiAngelo, as they have now done, LaVar would eventually use Lonzo’s free agency to find a team that would take all three of his sons.
It wasn’t the best plan, especially considering the Lakers have control of Lonzo for at least three more years.
No summer league with the Lakers
The hopes of LiAngelo getting a shot with his hometown NBA team, via a run in the summer league, were dashed Thursday, courtesy of a report from ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne:
Lakers officially informed LiAngelo Ball he will not be on their Summer League team last night. They were determined to make this a basketball decision but as one source put it, “obviously there’s more to it than basketball.” In other words— the LaVar effect was real.
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) June 22, 2018
Your guess at what the “LaVar effect” is probably a good one.
Could the Lakers still be interested?
One silver lining for the Ball family after Thursday is that LiAngelo now has his pick of teams that are willing to take him on, but the big questions are a) if the Lakers are part of that group and b) if any NBA team is part of that group.
If the answer to a) is “yes,” then cool. Maybe things will work out for the Ball family after all. Unfortunately, reports indicate that answer is a strong “no,” even with the Lakers’ G League team in play.
If the answer to a) is indeed “no” and b) is a “yes,” then alright, maybe we know where Lonzo could be looking in a few years.
And if it’s a “no” to both questions, then maybe LaVar Ball doesn’t quite have all the answers.
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