During interviews this week, LaVar Ball has gone on the record and said he wants to see all three of his sons—Lonzo, LiAngelo, and LaMelo—playing for the Lakers one day. It sounds like a completely crazy idea, especially when you consider that LiAngelo and LaMelo aren’t even locks to make it to the NBA just yet, but LaVar seems to have a way of willing his ideas into existence, and this is the latest one that’s he choosing to pursue.
The problem at this exact moment, though, is that in order to entice any NBA teams to give LiAngelo and LaMelo a look, LaVar is going to have to find somewhere for both of them to play in the near future. LaVar pulled LaMelo out of Chino Hills High School earlier this year, and he followed that up by pulling LiAngelo out of UCLA this week in light of the indefinite suspension he was given following his recent arrest in China. So as of right now, both players are without a team.
Some basketball insiders have kicked around the idea of LiAngelo and LaMelo potentially going overseas to play. It seems both of them have enough name recognition to draw some interest from teams in Europe and Asia, so why not let them built out their basketball résumés by playing professionally before returning back home to make a run at the NBA?
That sounds good in theory, but—and this is a big but for both Ball brothers—it doesn’t sound like there are any hard offers on the table for either of them right now. Most teams overseas have already tipped off their respective seasons, so simply adding the Ball brothers to the mix isn’t exactly feasible. Some teams are also probably going to be wary about signing the Ball brothers to a deal, knowing the headache they will have to deal with once LaVar gets involved.
One team that most definitely won’t be signing LiAngelo or LaMelo to a deal is the Lithuanian team Lietkabelis Panevezys. Earlier this week, a report circulated about how the team might be interested in signing both Ball brothers as a package deal. That is, until the team’s head coach Arturs Stalberg trolled the hell out of the Balls by shooting down the report in just about the most sarcastic way possible. Stalberg took to Twitter to say that the team is interested in signing the Balls—just not to play basketball.
All jokes aside, there is going to be a lot of attention paid to what LiAngelo and LaMelo do next. When LaVar pulled LaMelo out of school, it didn’t seem like that big of a deal because he’d still be eligible to play AAU basketball and refine his skills moving forward. But the LiAngelo thing is a whole other beast, and it feels like he might end up sabotaging his career by not playing college basketball. If the international teams don’t come calling and he’s left without a team, he might not even have a career within a year or two.
At any rate, it’ll be interesting to see where the Ball brothers eventually land. We’d guess someone out there will give them a shot for the publicity it would generate alone. But this is unchartered territory for two young basketball players, and it could end up backfiring on them if they don’t make the right move.