Everything is bad in Los Angeles. The Lakers have lost nine games in a row and have fallen to 11-27 on the season. They’ve gone from looking like a scrappy team to a night off at this point in the season and they won’t be keeping their draft pick this summer.
And now LaVar Ball is talking again. He’s targeting Luke Walton as the issue once again, saying the Lakers’ young coach has lost his locker room, according to a report from ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.
“You can see they’re not playing for Luke no more. Luke doesn’t have control of the team no more. They don’t want to play for him,” LaVar Ball said.
“That’s a good team. 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,” he continued.
This isn’t the first time LaVar Ball has tried to put a spotlight on Walton’s back. He complained that Walton didn’t know how to coach Lonzo Ball earlier in the season.
LaVar clearly has a problem with Walton’s coaching
Despite the fact that he said he didn’t have a problem with his coaching earlier this season, he clearly does. First, he complained the coaching staff was too “soft” and now he’s complaining about Ball’s minutes and Walton’s rotations, saying Lonzo Ball was “disgusted” when he was pulled out of the first quarter with four minutes to go.
LaVar clearly has a vested interest in his son playing more minutes and wants to see him succeed, but by voicing that interest he’s undermining the Lakers’ coaching staff in a way that doesn’t look great for the organization.
The Lakers tried to prevent this by limiting media access to the families, friends and agents of players, but that obviously isn’t solving this problem. LaVar Ball was in Lithuania with LiAngelo Ball and LaMelo Ball when he made these comments — the Lakers can’t stop that.
But Walton isn’t the only coach LaVar has had a problem with
LaVar essentially ran former Chino Hills High School head coach Stephan Gilling out of town with constant nagging and criticism about how he was running the team and coaching the Ball brothers. Once their feud became public, Chino Hills dropped Gilling as their coach.
He also pulled LaMelo out of Chino Hills partially because LaVar asked new coach Dennis Latimore to add four new players to their roster to play with his son and Latimore refused to do so.
Clearly, LaVar is a father who wants to have input on how his sons are coached, who they play with, and what they do on the court.
Could this hurt Luke Walton?
Those things might work at the high school level, but they’re not going to work in the NBA. LaVar being the father of the team’s top draft pick makes things a bit different, but he has no control over how the team plays or what moves they make.
So far, the Lakers have been committed to Walton as their coach and have not shown any signs of turning away from him anytime soon. While Ball’s criticisms may be valid in some places, organizations don’t fire coaches because a player’s father complains.
Walton will be just fine. Magic Johnson is on his side — that’s all that really matters. Has he been perfect? Of course not. But he’s still learning, too. He’ll figure it out eventually, but it’s way too early to cut him loose.
Especially not over comments a player’s father made.