Los Angeles Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball hasn’t been in the NBA long, but his father LaVar Ball has already quickly become one of the most polarizing figures in the history of the NBA.
While some appreciate the elder Ball’s outspoken nature and the way he shoots from the hip while building up his family business, Big Baller Brand, others have taken exception to the way that he’s been so publicly critical of head coach Luke Walton and players in the Lakers organization.
Some have been quick to attempt to kill any notion LaVar’s bluster could potentially damage the Lakers. But there’s a belief it could hinder the team’s chances of potentially signing LeBron James once he becomes a free agent this summer.
Moreover, at least a few other NBA players can be counted in the group annoyed by or wary of LaVar, according to Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report:
“There are also indications that players around the league have taken note, souring their view of the Lakers as a free-agency destination. One Eastern Conference executive overheard his players saying they had no interest in going to the Lakers “and having some old man criticize us and the team.”
The mindset of those players makes some sense. While not joining the Lakers because of LaVar might seem unlikely to some, these players also are probably not only wary of the team because of LaVar. Instead, he’s probably just one more straw that could break the proverbial camel’s back.
The Lakers are going to miss the playoffs and have an inexperienced front office. L.A.’s weather is nice and its young players are talented, but the previous two factors will undoubtedly be working against the team’s efforts to sign superstars in free agency.
With that being the case, do max-caliber free agents really want to show up on the team if they’re thinking about the inevitable Tuesday midway through the season when 30 reporters will show up to shootaround to stick microphones in their face and ask endless follow-ups about LaVar’s latest critique of this hypothetical free agent’s game or the way they didn’t defer to Lonzo enough?
That’s probably not enough of a problem on its own to get NBA free agents to turn the Lakers down on its own, but it could sway things towards a “no.” Now it’s also important to note there is a ‘telephone’ factor here.
These alleged comments from players have filtered from their mouths, through their executive and then into Bucher’s report, which presumably also went through editors. Because of that and the lack of context on which players made these anecdotal comments, as well what context they were made in, how real of a factor LaVar will be to various NBA free agents is obviously not totally knowable.
Additionally, there are nearly 500 players in the NBA at any one time, and the Lakers just need to find ones that weren’t the ones who made these comments to have a chance.
Whether they’ll be able to won’t be knowable until this summer. The only thing that’s certain is that LaVar’s bloviating probably isn’t helping their case, and it will be worth watching to see what the team does to address it.
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