BIRSTONAS, Lithuania — LaVar Ball says Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton has lost the team.
Ball, who woke up at 5 a.m. local time Saturday morning to watch his son Lonzo Ball return for the Lakers, expressed his frustration with Walton in an exclusive interview with ESPN.
“You can see they’re not playing for Luke no more,” LaVar said from the spa resort in Birstonas where he is staying while his two youngest sons get ready to make their professional debuts. “Luke doesn’t have control of the team no more. They don’t want to play for him.”
“That’s a good team,” he added of the Lakers, who have lost nine straight games. “Nobody wants to play for him. I can see it. No high five’s 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.”
LaVar has had issues with his sons’ coaches the last few years and even pulled LaMelo from Chino Hills High prior to the start of the season due to problems with first-year coach Dennis Latimore.
“Lonzo looked good, but he also looked disgusted,” LaVar 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 4 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.”
Ball made his return after missing six games with a sprained shoulder. He finished with 11 points and five assists in 27 minutes in the loss to Charlotte.
Lavar also said he is confident that LeBron James, whom he has never met, will be coming to the Lakers this offseason as a free agent.
“LeBron’s coming to LA. I know he’s coming to LA,” LaVar said. “LeBron is not a fool. What’s the only way he can beat Jordan? You can’t get more championships. Only one way, to say every team I’ve gone to I’ve won a championship. Go to Lakers and win a championship, then you’re better than Jordan.”
“You can’t give my son the best player in the league, and don’t expect them not to win,” he added. “Get rid of everybody. Give him LeBron and Gelo (LiAngelo Ball). You got a 2 and a 3. And it’s a win. It’s a wrap. Then all you need are two rebounders — (Julius) Randle and (Larry) Nance Jr.
But even with LeBron, Ball doesn’t feel that Walton is the right man to lead the Lakers to a title.
“Even if you bring in a LeBron or a (Paul) George, he can’t coach them guys,” he said. “What is he gonna tell them? He’s too young. He has no control.”