Ball spoke with ESPN’s Jeff Goodwin at a Lithuanian spa, before his sons, LiAngelo and LaMelo, were set to make their professional debut.
“You can see they’re not playing for Luke no more,” said Ball. “Luke doesn’t have control of the team no more. They don’t want to play for him.”
LaVar’s comments come at a painful time for the Lakers, as they’ve lost nine straight games, and 12 of their last 13.
At 11-27, the Lakers have the worst record in the Western Conference. And they’re only one game ahead of the Atlanta Hawks (10-28), who sit in the Eastern Conference cellar.
Ball Thinks that the Lakers Have More Potential
“That’s a good team,” said Ball. “Nobody wants to play for him. I can see it. No high fives when they come out of the game. People don’t know why they’re in the game.
“He’s too young. He’s too young. … He ain’t connecting with them anymore. You can look at every player, he’s not connecting with not one player.”
Lonzo Looks “Disgusted”
Ball has never had any trouble speaking for his sons, whether they agree or not. And LaVar discussed how he perceived his son’s attitude during the chat with Goodwin.
“He was ready to play,” said LaVar, regarding Walton’s decision to restrict Lonzo’s minutes post-injury. “Four minutes left in the first quarter, he dunked it, getting in a flow and coach sits him down. Sat him down.
“Now game goes from four points to 10 to 15 to 20. I don’t know what they’re doing. If he’s ready to play, let him play. Don’t try and monitor no minutes, put on restrictions.”
Ball Isn’t the Only Source of Discontent
Given some of the ridiculous things that Ball has said over the past two years, it wouldn’t be a big deal to dismiss him this time. However, LaVar isn’t the only one who’s questioning the Lakers’ motivation.
Promising rookie Kyle Kuzma thought that the team gave up during a 133-96 loss to Oklahoma City. And this could clearly reflect on Walton’s ability to rally his troops during the rough times.
But then again, it’s also not like a player’s dad should be let off the hook for criticizing an NBA coach. LaVar has a history of ripping any coach who presides over his sons. He disrespected Chino Hills coach Stephen Gilling following a playoff loss.
“Gilling can’t coach,” said LaVar. “I thought he was on our team until he started doing things his way. When he started doing things his way, that’s when they started losing. And now I’m not gonna be under the covers. My boys don’t want to play for him.”
He also bashed UCLA coach Steve Alford after LiAngelo was suspended, and later withdrew from the university following a shoplifting incident in China.
Lakers may Currently Regret Drafting Lonzo
Most of the attention regarding Lonzo’s early pro career centered on his inability to shoot. He was hitting less than 30% of his shots from the field during the early portion of the season.
The good news, though, is that he’s got his shooting percentage over 35% now. And Lonzo is doing all of the things that the Lakers expected when they drafted him. The 20-year-old’s numbers look good since he’s averaging 10.1 points, 7.0 assists, 6.8 rebounds, 1.38 steals, and even 0.97 blocks.
From a talent and production standpoint, Lonzo has a very bright future in this league. However, one of the key concerns with drafting Ball was how his father would behave on the sidelines. So far, it hasn’t been very good.
LaVar has done everything from accusing the Lakers of “babying” his son’s development, to calling the entire team “soft” following a loss.
In an unprecedented move for an NBA father, the franchise instituted the LaVar Ball rule to curb his media access. They also asked him to keep his criticisms of Walton to a minimum.
Unfortunately, these moves don’t seem to be working very well at the moment. And it’s not helping anything when considering that the team is playing so badly right now. All of this could affect LA’s ability to attract top free agents like LeBron James and Paul George in the offseason.
The Lakers currently look like a toxic environment for young players. And LaVar Ball is only throwing fuel on the fire.