National Basketball Association

LaVar Ball says Pelicans should trade Lonzo, LaMelo needs no advice – fair or foul?

March 19

You can't hold him down for long. 

LaVar Ball is back in the news this week, sharing his opinion on the futures of his two point guard sons, Lonzo and LaMelo

He started with Lonzo, the No. 2 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers, who is now a member of the New Orleans Pelicans after being traded for Anthony Davis alongside Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, a few picks and some cash in the summer of 2019.

LaVar would like to see his eldest son move cities again, and he said as much Thursday on ESPN's "Mason & Ireland" show, arguing that the franchise is not taking advantage of Lonzo's unique abilities.

"He can’t stay in New Orleans. ... Lonzo’s always been a playmaker. Why are you trying to change him into a defensive specialist that stays in the corner and shoots 3s?"

Ball also had something to say about the Pelicans' use of Ingram and the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, Zion Williamson.

"You’re trying to change Zion [Williamson] and Brandon Ingram, who all through their career have never been playmakers. They’re scorers. Now you want to put the ball in their hand?"

The NBA trade deadline is March 25, and LaVar noted that he hopes Lonzo is sporting some new on-court threads by then.

"I hope he's traded. ... I don’t like watching him play like [he's playing now]."

While Lonzo is having a career year when it comes to scoring, averaging a career-high 14.2 points while shooting career bests from the field (42.5%), from 3 (38.5%) and from the free-throw line (76.7%), his other numbers have suffered.

Lonzo put up 7.0 assists per game in his rookie season, 5.4 in his sophomore season and a career-high 7.2 last season, but he is now down to 5.6 in 38 games this season. He is also averaging a career-low 4.2 rebounds. 

LaVar didn't stop with senior son. In the same ESPN interview, he said that his youngest son, LaMelo, the No. 3 pick by Michael Jordan's Charlotte Hornets in the 2021 NBA Draft, didn't need guidance from the GOAT. 

Why?

Because MJ is old news. 

"When you have milk in your refrigerator and when the damn thing expires, I hope you throw it away. When’s the last time [Jordan] won a championship in the game? ... The Charlotte Hornets been around a long time before my son got there. [Talk to] some of those guys so you can win. Don’t wait to tell my boy."

How much advice LaMelo has gotten from Jordan so far is unclear, but whatever is going on in Charlotte is working.

LaMelo is the front-runner to win the NBA's Rookie of the Year award, putting up 16.0 points, 6.2 assists, 5.9 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game. He's shooting 45.3% from the field, 37.7% from distance and 80.2% from the charity stripe.

On top of all that, he is simply electric.

One would think that having two sons starting at point guard for NBA franchises would be enough to make a father happy, but LaVar Ball is no ordinary father. 

Is it finally time for him to be a little more ordinary?

Shannon Sharpe said on Friday's "Undisputed" that even if LaVar has a point about Lonzo and the structure of the Pelicans, he has to show more respect for the caliber of player that Ingram and Williamson have become.

"I get that you want the ball in your son's hands all the time. Nobody else should touch the ball unless they rebound it to pass it to your son. I get it! But Brandon Ingram's an All-Star. Zion Williamson is an All-Star. Is Zion the playmaker your son is? No. But I think Brandon Ingram could be.

"But this is what you have to deal with [as the team]. You knew what you were getting when you drafted his sons."

Skip Bayless agreed with Sharpe, and in discussing LaMelo, he wondered why LaVar would take a shot at not only arguably the game's greatest player ever but also his son's boss.

"There's always some truth to what [LaVar] says – sometimes too much truth to what he says. But I still cannot fathom why he keeps doing this to his sons. It doesn't help either one of them remotely. LaVar just took on the greatest player in the history of this game, and he is the owner and operator of the franchise for which LaMelo plays. He pays LaMelo's salary.

"I will give you this: Michael can't pick players, but he can still teach players. And I'm sure, here and there, he will help LaMelo's growth. What good does it do to say he's like 'expired milk'?"

LaVar's comments don't seem to be having an effect on the play of Lonzo or LaMelo. 

In his past three games, Lonzo is averaging 15.3 points, 10.0 assists and 5.0 rebounds, and in his past four, LaMelo is averaging 19.8 points, 4.8 assists and 4.8 rebounds. It seems both have gotten used to the voice of their father.

Now, the NBA world – including the New Orleans and Charlotte organizations – has to get used to it, too.


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