The Los Angeles Lakers are in mired in a nine-game losing streak and fingers are being pointed at all involved. The team has shown a lack of effort in recent blowout losses, particularly in their last two games against the Charlotte Hornets and Oklahoma City Thunder.
The always outspoken LaVar Ball weighed in on the Lakers’ struggles, and he believes that head coach Luke Walton is to blame. With Lonzo Ball, the team’s starting point guard, out due to injury for much of the losing streak, LaVar had largely remained quiet.
After a poor showing against the lowly Hornets in Lonzo’s return, however, LaVar spoke to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman about his belief that Walton is the problem:
“You can see they’re not playing for Luke no more,” Ball said from a spa resort in Birstonas, where he is staying while his two youngest sons, LiAngelo and LaMelo, get ready to make their professional debuts with Lithuanian team Prienu Vytautas. “Luke doesn’t have control of the team no more. They don’t want to play for him.”
LaVar is known for bombastic comments but suggesting that a coach has lost the ear of his team is a serious accusation that implies a change needs to be made. Ball had largely refrained from criticizing Walton after a meeting last month with team officials where they asked him to tone it down.
He was also critical of how Walton managed Lonzo’s minutes:
“Lonzo looked good, but he also looked disgusted,” Ball said. “He was ready to play. Four minutes left in the first quarter, he dunked it, getting in a flow and Coach sits him down. Sat him down. Now game goes from four points to 10 to 15 to 20. I don’t know what they’re doing. If he’s ready to play, let him play. Don’t try and monitor no minutes, put on restrictions.”
While Ball has a right to believe what he wants about how the Lakers should play his son, it’s easy to understand why Walton would try to limit Lonzo’s minutes. It’s a common practice for teams to ease players back into playing after they have missed time.
The Lakers knew that they would have to handle LaVar’s personality when they drafted Lonzo, but they still can’t be too pleased with his latest comments. The remarks are in contrast to what the Lakers have done, which consistently voiced their support for Walton throughout the team’s struggles.
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