The Ball family broke the Internet once again yesterday when they announced that LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball were going overseas to begin their professional playing careers.
They both signed one-year deals with Lithuanian team Prienu Vytautas that begin in January. But what wasn’t initially announced is that the deals may only be valid for one month, according to a report from ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.
Yes, you read that correctly.
"There is a clause to terminate the contract after a month, so it's more of an experiment at this stage," Club director Adomas Kubilius said in an interview about the Ball brothers coming to Lithuania.
It’s becoming more and more apparent that this may be a money grab for the Lithuanian team and another publicity stunt from the Ball family. Let’s explore.
The opt-out makes sense for both sides
A long-term deal here for the Ball brothers didn’t make a lot of sense. They’re not going to get very much playing time and aren’t playing in one of the top leagues in the world. They won’t even be playing for the club they signed to — they’ll play for a minor league team instead.
Plus, according to ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla, they probably aren’t being paid very much, if at all, to play in Lithuania.
The situation might not be beneficial for LiAngelo Ball or LaMelo Ball, but it doesn’t hurt to see what’s there. Especially for a player like LiAngelo who may not reach the NBA.
But this makes a ton of since for the club. They just signed two prospects who come with an unusual amount of media attention. They’ll have Ball family fans from across the globe tuning into their games.
The club is reportedly searching for a $60,000 jersey sponsorship and propping up the Ball brothers may help with that. If it doesn’t, they can break things off after a month with no consequences. It’s a win-win.
Lithuanians do seem excited to have the Ball family in the country
There’s a strong basketball culture in Lithuania. They’ve produced professionals like Jonas Valanciunas, Donatas Motiëjunas, and most famously Arvydas Sabonis. There are solid pros who’ve come up in leagues just like the one the Ball brothers are about to play in.
While the club may just be looking for money, there’s a genuine enthusiasm for the Ball family and the time they’ll spend overseas. Linas Linkevicius, Lithuania’s foreign minister, gave them a shoutout on Twitter.
Even Valanciunas thinks it’s cool.
Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas, of Lithuania, discusses LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball signing with Vytautas. JV said it was a great opportunity for the country and the Ball family. pic.twitter.com/8FKOcw6cBg— Law Murray ☃️ (@LawMurrayTheNU) December 12, 2017
And a TV commentator is even — literally — singing their names.
This LKL TV commentator felt like @Lavarbigballer, @MELOD1P and @LiAngeloBall needed a special welcome to Lithuania and burst into song at the beginning of the broadcast of today's Vytautas game.— Simonas Baranauskas (@LithuaniaBasket) December 12, 2017
I am dying, call an ambulance. pic.twitter.com/EnDNAwVYN1
So the enthusiasm there is real. So long as that remains the case and the Ball brothers get a legitimate opportunity, things will probably last for more than a month.