Heisler: Lakers should add a year to Luke Walton’s contract every time LaVar Ball rips him

first_img Lakers coach Luke Walton believes his job remains safe Kyle Kuzma defends Luke Walton, says most Lakers ‘love playing for him’ Spurs’ Gregg Popovich latest to come to defense of Lakers’ Luke Walton Actually, it was Lonzo’s play and LaVar’s inspiration. Or LaVar’s inspiration and Lonzo’s play. Just ask LaVar.Not that it’s easy … or possible … to deal with someone not even Magic Johnson can charm or persuade. The Lakers had him in on Nov. 29, at which time LaVar said he’d come to them with any complaints.Or that’s what the Lakers thought he said. LaVar’s version, to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne was, “I am going to say, to plant a seed, ‘Let’s look for this now.’ They might not want to hear that, but it’s going to be successful if you listen to what I’m saying on the fact that I know what it takes for my son to run like this.”If LaVar doesn’t deserve the respect they have shown him, there’s no embarrassing or intimidating him, either, when all he has to do in reply is talk into a live microphone.The Lakers, who know something about stars, had Kobe Bryant, the brashest of the brash, who asked Coach Del Harris as an 18-year-old rookie why they couldn’t run post-ups for him, leaving Delmer to explain they had Shaquille O’Neal for that.Anguished as Kobe was at not playing more than 16 minutes a game in his first season, his father, Joe, a former NBA player who was at every game, never uttered a peep.I knew Joe from Philadelphia, where I covered him as a young player. In Los Angeles he declined to do interviews for years, saying this was Kobe’s time.Suggesting how secure Walton feels, he joked about lifting Lonzo in the win over Atlanta because “his father was talking (trash).”Showing how big this story has gotten, you can now buy “DNP, Coach’s Decision (Dad was talking (trash)” T-shirts online for $25 – which is pricey, but half the price of the cheapest tee on the Big Baller Brand site.Big Baller, of course, is a hype-driven shell company with no advertising budget, the Better Business Bureau citing it for not fulfilling orders and the apparel company that made its products suing for non-payment.This BBB hype is nothing compared to LaVar’s boast that he took LiAngelo and LaMelo to Lithuania so both could get to the Lakers by 2020.Believe this: The Lakers will never have more than one Ball on their roster – if that many, assuming they can make a go of it with Lonzo.We’re not talking about Pau and Marc Gasol. LiAngelo, 19, isn’t considered an NBA prospect. LaMelo is highly regarded for his age – 16 – but a long way away at a listed 6-foot-3, 160 pounds.If a village of 10,000 in Lithuania in winter time with seven hours of daylight isn’t as comfortable for the kids as Westwood or Chino Hills, it’s perfect for LaVar, with the locals changing the team’s schedule for a tournament with the BBB logo plastered everywhere – including the referees’ jerseys – and a female TV reporter asking out Gelo at the introductory press conference.And the press! There was all sorts of press, even if NBA coaches blamed ESPN – unfairly – for LaVar’s nonsense. Detroit’s Stan Van Gundy proposed a boycott of the network. More entertainingly, San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich settled for noting that LaVar is “just another fan from the peanut gallery.”Related Articles Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersIronically, and dismayingly for the Lakers, they’re committed to Walton with Jeanie Buss tweeting #InLukeWeTrust in her New Year’s greeting … but with the heat on, no one had his back.Furious though the Lakers were, they were afraid to reply and make the story even bigger. Luke was left to fend for himself at a tender moment with a nine-game losing streak, including the 37-point home loss to OKC that followed LaVar’s rip, in which Kyle Kuzma said, “We gave up.”Worse was Lonzo’s response – “I can play for anyone” – or was it just low-key Lonzo being Lonzo?Wait a year or two to see if Luke’s still here.In the nick of time, the Lakers won three in a row … whether or not the credit goes to the Luke and the players.center_img Clippers coach Doc Rivers says criticism of Lakers counterpart Luke Walton is ‘awful’ Yes, Daddy Dearest.There’s no getting away from LaVar Ball even when he’s half a world away, continuing his outrages from Lakerdom to Lithuania.The Lakers live for the day they no longer hear his name, but there’s no pretending he doesn’t exist – as they’re trying to do – or that his latest rip of Luke Walton wasn’t a distraction, or that it’s not damaging their brand as they prepare to pursue elite free agents.In the annals of problem parents, this is beyond the Marv Marinoviches. LaVar is more like Faye Dunaway playing Joan Crawford in the 1981 film, using her children as extras, ordering them to call her “Mommy Dearest” and visiting her hysteria on them as her movie queen status fades. Lonzo Ball says he’ll ‘play for anybody’ after LaVar blasts Lakers coach Luke Walton Unfortunately for the Lakers, they find themselves buffetted on all sides at a time their brand is all-important for impressing LeBron James, Paul George et al. Players are aware that all but three or four of them could be outward-bound and morale is already on a precipice.What to do the next time they lose two in a row and LaVar sees guys aren’t high-fiving each other coming out of the game?The Lakers can 1) say nothing and let Walton dangle, which is bad; or 2) give Luke a vote of confidence, a well-known red flag for trouble, which is worse.Or maybe No. 2 is bad and No. 1 is worse.I’ve got it: Every time LaVar rips Walton, add a year to Luke’s contract. For a team making more than $100 million per year in local TV revenue, another year of Luke’s $5 million salary is chump change if it sticks a cork in LaVar.last_img read more

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