LaVar Ball Rips Luke Walton – “They’re Not Playing for Luke No More”

lavar-ball-rips-luke-waltonLaVar Ball, father of Lakers rookie guard Lonzo Ball, is never afraid to create drama. And he’s up to his old ways again, ripping Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton.

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

lavar-ball-luke-waltonThe outspoken father believes that the team isn’t living up to their potential. And LaVar also thinks that Walton, 37, is “too young” to coach the team.

“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.

lonzo-ball-lakers“Lonzo looked good, but he also looked disgusted,” LaVar said following a 108-94 loss to the Charlotte Hornets. This was Lonzo’s first game after missing six straight contests with a shoulder injury.

“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.

luke-walton-lakersPromising 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.

Cavs Futures: DeAndre Jordan Trade in Serious Talks

The Cleveland Cavaliers have been interested in L.A. Clippers center DeAnre Jordan for a while. But trade talks with the L.A. Clippers have intensified recently.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Terry Pluto reports that what’s holding this deal up is whether the Clippers would get the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 first-round draft pick.

Pluto explains that the Cavs aren’t currently interested in parting ways with the pick, which they received in an offseason deal with the Boston Celtics for Kyrie Irving.

Contracts Also a Problem for Cleveland

Another roadblock to a potential Jordan deal is that Cleveland would also have to trade away players to absorb his salary.

According to Spotrac, Jordan is earning $22 million this year. And if Jordan exercises his player option, he’d receive $24 million next season.

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Cleveland CavaliersThe most likely scenario is that Cleveland would have to trade away Tristan Thompson and Channing Frye before they can add Jordan. Thompson is making $16.4 million in the 2017-18 the campaign, while Frye is earning $7.4 million.

The Cavs wouldn’t have as much trouble getting rid of Frye, because he’s in the final year of his deal. However, Thompson is a different story since he has two more years left on his deal beyond this season.

Another issue here is production, given that Thompson is averaging career lows in points (5.1) and rebounds (5.4) in what’s been an injury plagued campaign.

How would DeAndre Jordan Impact the Cavaliers?

Jordan would certainly be an upgrade over what Cleveland currently has at center. The 29-year-old is averaging 11.5 points, a career-high 15.2 rebounds, and shooting 65.7% from the field. Given all this, he’s likely on his way to a second consecutive All-Star bid.

deandre-jordanJordan is also a strong rim protector, something that Cleveland hasn’t had for years. He’s a two-time All-Defensive First Team selection who’s averaging 1.7 blocks per game. The All-Star has also led the league in field goal percentage for five straight seasons.

Any team could use a player like this on their roster, even in the modern NBA, where traditional centers are less valued. Furthermore, putting Jordan on the roster would add another really good player to a lineup that already features LeBron James, Isaiah Thomas, Kevin Love, and Dwayne Wade.

The Cavs are currently sitting third in the Eastern Conference with a 25-13 record. And their biggest Achilles heel has been defense. They rank 21st in the league, allowing 107.2 points per game.

Do the Cavs Really Need Jordan?

Obviously adding DeAndre Jordan would help Cleveland both from a defensive and overall perspective. But do really want to give up the 2018 Brooklyn Nets pick for him? And would the team have enough time to build chemistry and between the roster and Jordan?

General manager Koby Altman must have his own questions about the risk vs. reward. Otherwise, he would’ve already traded the Nets’ pick and made whatever salary shedding moves were necessary.

This certainly isn’t to say that Jordan isn’t worth the pick, especially when the 15-26 Nets boast a better record than seven other NBA teams. That said, chances are that the pick would only be a mid-lottery selection.

Of course, the biggest question is if trading for Jordan would bring Cleveland another championship. Such a move would indicate that the Cavs are willing to mortgage their future for a better chance at winning now.

This definitely won’t be easy when considering that the Golden State Warriors have their same championship core intact from last year.

Another thing to consider is that LeBron James may not be in a Cleveland uniform next season. Rumors have been flying around regarding where he’ll be ever since the offseason. And sending the Nets’ pick away for one more chance at a title wouldn’t be the best long-term move if James does leave.

One more thing worth mentioning is that Isiah Thomas has recently returned from a hip injury. Therefore, they may want to wait and see how much he helps before trading the pick for yet another big name.

Nick Saban, Kirby Smart Scenario Adds to College Football Championship Drama

nick-saban-kirby-smartThe 2018 College Football Championship game will certainly be an interesting one. Not only does this title matchup feature two SEC schools, but also a student vs. teacher scenario.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart was Alabama coach Nick Saban’s defensive coordinator for seven years, before becoming the Bulldogs’ head man.

The good news is that there’s no bad blood between these two. In fact, Saban offered praise earlier this season for the guy who was with him at Alabama, LSU, and the Miami Dolphins.

AL.com reports that this game isn’t personal in any way. “As the people who know them will tell you, in their 11 years together, nine of them at Alabama,” writes AL’s Kevin Scarbinsky, “their relationship was strictly business, and business was very good.”

Nevertheless, this is certainly a game that both coaches want to win badly. Saban has always been one of the most competitive coaches in college football history. Evidence of this can be seen in the fact that he’s won four national championships at Alabama in nine years. If he’s able to win on Monday, this would be his fifth.

Smith no doubt wants to get his first-ever title as a head coach. And perhaps it would be even sweeter for him to beat his mentor in the process.

Saban Never Envisioned the National Title would be this Way

nick-saban-alabama-1Neither coach will admit that their competitive juices want them to beat the other side. But Saban did discuss how he couldn’t have envisioned this is how the College Football Championship would play out.

“I never imagined it, never thought of it that way,” Saban told the media. “I’m proud of the fact that Kirby has done a great job. He’s a done a fantastic job to get them to this level.

“He did a fabulous job for us for the years that he was with us. It’s certainly a challenge to play against someone who does such a good job.”

Of course, nobody has done as good as Saban in the modern college football game. But he’ll have the task of trying to win his first national title without Smart on his staff.

Saban’s assistants haven’t had much luck against him. They’re currently 0-11 against their old boss. If Smart can win, he’ll be the first former assistant to accomplish this feat in 12 tries.

kirby-smart-georgiaSmart sees similarities between Alabama and Georgia entering this game. But he also wants to reiterate that the Bulldogs aren’t trying to be anything but themselves.

“I’m close to a lot of those guys, but the game is not between Coach Saban and I,” Smart explained. “I know who he is, I know what he does. He knows everything that I do and that we do. There’s a lot of similarities between the two programs.

“We’re trying to be Georgia, and they’re trying to be Alabama. That’s the bottom line. It’s not really about he and I. I have tremendous respect for him and everything he stands for, and he’s been a great asset to my career.”

Smart added that he’s still close with some of the former Tide players from when he was on the staff.

“I watch those guys when I’m not playing them, from afar, watching a game. I’m cheering and rooting for every kid I signed.

“There’s a lot of guys that are seniors and juniors on that defense, that team, that I know their families and they’ve sent me congratulatory texts, but I know where my focus and concentration is. It’s on giving our team the best chance they’ve got. I can’t be thinking about personal relationships to do that.”

Alabama is Facing a Familiar Foe

Much how Smart is familiar with his former Tide players, Alabama also knows Georgia well. In fact, Smart’s defensive coordinator spot was filled by Jeremy Pruitt, who served as the Bulldogs’ DC from 2014-15. The two even game-planned on how to shut down Clemson’s Deshaun Watson last year.

nick-saban-kirby-smart-title-game“Everybody’s worked together so much, we kind of know what each other wants to do in certain situations, so it’s gonna be about the players going in to execute,” Pruitt said.

“There’s probably some advantages both ways, but at the same time you can possibly have too much information. It’s definitely interesting.”

The Alabama players even think that Smart and Saban are very much alike.

“They’re very similar,” said Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick. “They’re both very passionate, both very thorough in what they do in their gameplans. They challenge their players to do what they’re supposed to do.”

Running back Damien Harris also chimed in.

“[Smart] knows what we do, but I think Coach Saban knows a little bit better what he’s going to do,” said Harris, “considering he learned it all from Coach Saban.”

Game time is set for tomorrow night at 8:10pm EST. And our GTBets line has Alabama as a -3.5 favorite. That said, you still have time to place a bet if you like the Tide or Bulldogs in this one.