LaVar Ball said it. Zach LaVine smiled at the suggestion. The Los Angeles Lakers soap opera has its storyline for the week.
Let’s meet our performers in the drama.
Lavar Ball, you remember him, right? He plays the role of Stage Dad.
Ball went on Chicago sports talk radio this week and said that former Bulls star and current free agent Zach LaVine (he plays our role as star) wanted to move on from the Bulls and join the Lakers.
TMZ, you know them too. They play the role as pot-stirrer. They approached (hounded) LaVine while he was in Los Angeles and LaVine noted that he’s ‘always been a big’ Laker fan.
The sound bite was picked up sparking the idea that LaVine would look good in a Laker jersey. That’s true, but could it really happen? And is he even worth the fuss?
But first the real question.
Who does LaVar Ball know?
Remember, LaVar’s two sons are in the NBA now. LaMelo just had a good year with the Charlotte Hornets (now, he would look good in a Laker jersey). Lonzo left the Pelicans and joined the Bulls this year. You didn’t hear much from Lonzo this year. He got hurt after 35 games and missed the Bulls playoff run.
But there’s your thread of a connection. Lonzo hypothetically tells his Dad, yeah, Zach wants to go to the Lakers. LaVar goes on the radio, starts yapping. TMZ starts stalking.
Everyone is happy.
Is Zach LaVine worth it?
LaVine is a West Coast kid who played a year at UCLA. The Bruins went to the Sweet 16, LaVine was a raw freshman who could always jump and run, but not much else.
Since the NBA values young athleticism more than anything else, LaVine made the smart decision to turn pro. The Minnesota Timberwolves drafted him in the first round and immediately plugged him into their line-up.
LaVine made the All-Rookie team, but in his three years with the T-Wolves they went 16-66, 29-53 and 31-51. LaVine’s dunks were about the only thing worth watching. He won the NBA Dunk contest in 2015 and 2016 – the 2016 contest is the best.
Reborn in the Second City
LaVine got the heck out of Minnesota as soon as he could and joined the Chicago Bulls. His game got better. His team did not.
The Bulls won 27, 22 and 22 games in LaVine’s first three years. He was still supremely athletic but had begun to realize how to use those skills in games.
He had a breakout year in his seventh season scoring 27.4 a night and was an All-Star at age 25. Last year, he and DeMar DeRozan had the Bulls at the top of the Eastern Conference for a while. The Bulls sagged and finished 46-36, LaVine was an All-Star again, but Chicago was dropped in the playoffs by the Bucks in the first round. LaVine missed Game 5 of the series in health and wellness protocols.
What will it cost the Lakers?
LaVine made $19.5 million last year according to Spotrac.com. He’s a free agent. Guess what? He wants more money. He just played on his first playoff team, and he’s still relatively young for the NBA.
However, this is the bad news. The Lakers can’t just sign LaVine. Yes, there are all kind of wacky things good GMs can do with the salary cap, but the Lakers don’t have the best GM. They also are handcuffed by already having 73.86 percent of their cap allocated to three players – Russell Westbrook (cap figure of 47 million….stop laughing) LeBron (44 million) and Anthony Davis (37 million).
So you’re saying there’s a chance?
The dream scenario would be another NBA franchise wants to take Westbrook. I dream of marrying Scarlett Johansson. It’s not going to happen.
The other option would be some sort of sign-and-trade deal where the Lakers get LaVine and work it out with other NBA teams, getting rid of Westbrook, fixing their cap issues and swapping a couple of players and future picks.
Again, mortgaging their future for the present. Can I remind you the Lakers don’t even have a coach right now? Really though, forget all that. It’s a testament to the Lakers brand and lifestyle that this is even being considered. We’ve seen the Lakers do magic before, but if Zach LaVine wants to be in a Lakers jersey, he should probably buy one at the store.