Celtics

LaVar Ball explains why Lakers, not Celtics, are best fit for Lonzo Ball

LaVar Ball explains why Lakers, not Celtics, are best fit for Lonzo Ball

BOSTON –  When Lonzo Ball and his camp “politely” declined to work out for the Boston Celtics who hold the top overall pick in the June 22 NBA draft, it was seen by many as a diss to the Celtics.

Who wouldn’t want to work out for the team with the top overall pick, right?

But after talking with Lonzo’s loquacious father LaVar Ball, his son turning down a workout for Boston while working out for the No. 2 pick Los Angeles Lakers (the team most expect will draft Ball) was actually a compliment to the Celtics and yet another keepin’ it real moment by LaVar in relation to the Lakers and his son.

“Team-wise, the Lakers are a better fit,” LaVar Ball said on the CSN CelticsTalk Podcast with Kyle Draper and A. Sherrod Blakely. “They (Lakers) really don’t have a leader. Boston already went to the playoffs. They have a leader.”

And LaVar Ball reiterated what most draft experts and league executives believe will happen on June 22nd, which is that the Celtics will select Markelle Fultz with the number one overall pick.

“I think Markelle is a better fit for Boston,” LaVar Ball acknowledged. “He’s more of a scoring guy.”

And while Lonzo Ball has shown the ability to score the ball, his greatest strength is in the role of playmaker which is a role he won’t be able to star in that much with the Celtics courtesy of two-time All-Star Isaiah Thomas.

“Check it out; you’re gonna have the ball in Isaiah’s hands or the other guy’s hands and Zo could possibly slide over to the two at some point,” LaVar Ball said. “But he’s a one (point guard). So just as a pure fit, you really wouldn’t know who’s team it is if he’s in Boston.”

But the Lakers, he said, is an entirely different story.

“Now going straight to the Lakers, they’re super-young,” LaVar Ball said. “It’s Lonzo’s team; that’s my opinion of it. Everybody else might think about it differently or something. But I’m just being realistic and thinking about it. He would be a better fit with the Lakers instead of Boston because (the Celtics are) already established and on their way up.”

LaVar has made it known for as long as a microphone was within the sound of his voice, that he wants Lonzo to play for the Los Angeles Lakers.

“It’s just my belief … I kind of feel this is lined up a long time ago,” LaVar Ball said. “And not saying that Lonzo wouldn’t play for the Celtics. I just had this vision of my boy playing for the Lakers (a long time ago) and I’m just going to speak it into existence.”

And when several Mock Drafts and league experts pegged Lonzo as the No. 2 prospect in this draft – and later the Lakers wound up with the No. 2 overall pick – it seemed all the stars aligned themselves for the former UCLA guard to be exactly where he and his family wanted – close to home, playing for the Los Angeles Lakers.

But LaVar knows anything can happen between now and draft night, even when the seemingly best-laid plans are in place.

So yes, he has embraced the idea that Lonzo’s first NBA home may not be in Los Angeles with the Lakers.

“If it doesn’t happen, I won’t be like, ‘goddangit, ah man, life’s over,”’ LaVar said. “Zo’s main goal was to play for the NBA; to get to the NBA. Whatever team he plays for, is fine. Now we go on … let’s say you have a dessert. And your preference is chocolate cake. But if you bring me an apple pie, I ain’t gonna send it back. It’s the same thing. He’s still gonna play so we’re good. Dessert is dessert; NBA team is an NBA team. But if he has a choice and can pick one, I ain’t gonna be afraid to pick one.”

LaVar Ball is a straight-no-chaser kind of guy, a brash-talking father who isn’t the least bit coy about letting anyone in the world know just how talented he believes his sons are when it comes to basketball.

And with his son Lonzo just a couple weeks away from being among the first names called in the June 22 NBA draft (a top-5 selection most likely), LaVar knows there will be established veterans as well as young up-and-comers in the NBA gunning for his son.

“That’s the thing. You want to be a target when you’re good,” he said. “When you’re sorry you ain’t no target. It’s just like a boxer. You don’t want to fight all these contenders. You want the main guy to come and try and kill you. That’s how I want my boys. I want people to come at them.”

Bucks approaching Game 5 as if they'll see Smart

Bucks approaching Game 5 as if they'll see Smart

BOSTON – When it comes to the playoffs, it’s always a good idea to have as many contingency plans as possible.

For the Milwaukee Bucks, that means making sure they are prepared to see Marcus Smart make his series debut tonight.

The 6-foot-4 guard has been given clearance to potentially play in tonight’s pivotal Game 5 matchup.

As much as Smart and the Celtics would love for him to be on the floor tonight, Brad Stevens cautions that his return tonight is not a given.

“He still has to go through some things later this morning after our shootaround, and then we’ll see how he feels after that,” Stevens told reporters. “If he feels good, then he’s been cleared physically to go. If he has any pain or anything comes up, then we’ll hold him out.”

Regardless of how those tests go, the Bucks are approaching Game 5 as if Smart will be on the floor at some point.

And while he hasn’t played in more than a month, the Bucks are well aware of how impactful a potential return by Smart can be.

Khris Middleton is one of the Bucks players who'll see plenty of Smart.

“He’s a competitor,” Middleton told NBC Sports Boston. “He goes hard. He’s a crafty player, a smart player. Great defensive player. So, you’ve just gotta be smart with him. He’s a guy that can make plays with the ball in his hands and knock down some big shots. Just gotta do a great job of trying to contain him if he plays tonight. We’ve just gotta be aware of him on the defensive side.”

Milwaukee interim coach Joe Prunty acknowledged Smart is indeed on the scouting report for tonight’s game.

“We know how he plays. We know how he plays within their system,” Prunty said. “He’ll definitely add an element for them. If he does play, we’re prepared for that.”

A potential Smart return comes at a time when the Celtics’ defense, which came into the postseason with a league-best defensive rating of 101.5, has actually been among the worst defenses in the playoffs.

Boston’s has had a defensive rating of 99.1 when Smart has played.

And while there’s no telling if Smart in the lineup will make that big a difference to the team’s defense against the Bucks, there’s no denying Smart playing tonight will provide a much-needed boost for Boston.

“He does a good job for them at both ends of the floor, by defending and on offense, moving the ball, facilitate a lot on the offensive end for them,” said Milwaukee’s Thon Maker. “With us, we have to find a way to match his energy if he does play tonight.”

Even though Smart hasn’t played in a competitive game in more than a month, the Bucks have every intention of going at him as though he had played in every game of this series.

“He’s still been working,” Middleton said. “You can’t disrespect him just because he hasn’t played in a while. You have to play him like he’s been playing all year long or this whole series, which is, get after him some too.”

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