After weeks of experts assuming it was all but a done deal, story after story is emerging to indicate that the Los Angeles Lakers might be open to passing on Lonzo Ball with the second overall pick in the NBA Draft.
Ball, who was born and raised in the Los Angeles area, has been considered a favourite to go to the Lakers since even before his lone season at UCLA ended.
With all of his roots in Los Angeles and a father committed to branding the entire family, many believed that as long as the Lakers got a high enough draft pick, Lonzo would be suiting up for the purple and gold this fall.
In May, Lonzo’s now-infamous father, LaVar, went as to far as to turn down a workout invitation from the Boston Celtics and say that his son would not be working out for any teams other than the Lakers. “That’s all we working out for is the Lakers. Just the Lakers. There’s nobody else that we need to workout for.”
When the Lakers wound up with the second overall pick after the lottery, many thought that the script was already written, the story too good not to come true. But the Los Angeles front office has not exactly shown the same level of assuredness in the UCLA standout when it comes to working out potential draft picks.
The team has already invited other expected lottery picks to workout for them, including Kansas small forward Josh Jackson, Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox, and Washington point guard Markelle Fultz.
While Fultz is expected to be selected with the first overall pick by the Boston Celtics, the Lakers have invited him back for a second workout, fuelling speculation that his future with Boston may not yet be sealed.
Additionally, rumours swirled across social media this week that Josh Jackson had gotten a promise from a team that he would be drafted after he cancelled a workout with the Celtics on Monday.
Jackson has already worked out for the Lakers and is expected to return for another before Draft Day.
On top of this, Broderick Turner of the LA Times has reported that according to several NBA officials “the Lakers are split over whether to use their No. 2 pick on Ball or Jackson.”
Turner went on to report that, “Several executives said Ball appeared ‘out of shape’ and way ‘too cool’ during his first workout with the Lakers.”
Beyond competing against other great players in terms of talent on the court, Ball also brings his father and the entirety of the Big Baller Brand with him to whatever franchise eventually selects him. LaVar’s tendency to get in front of cameras and say unpredictable (and sometimes problematic things) will be taken into consideration by every team thinking about drafting Lonzo, and it’s easy to imagine that a $US3 billion franchise might be uncomfortable bringing a media firebrand they can’t control into the fold.
Only time will tell where Lonzo eventually ends up playing in his rookie season. But right now it feels like each day brings with it a new story of hesitance and reconsideration on the part of Los Angeles.
One thing’s for certain though — we’re officially in the thick of draft rumour season, and chances are we won’t be totally sure of anything until Adam Silver takes the microphone at the Barclay’s Center on June 22nd.
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