The Los Angeles Lakers tipped their hand two days ago, and the franchise made it official Thursday night, when itselected former UCLA star Lonzo Ball with the second pick in the NBA Draft. Ball has made no secret of his desire to play for his hometown Lakers, who reportedly dealt starting point guard DAngelo Russell and center Timofey Mozgov to the Nets in a cap-clearing move that left the point guard spot for Ball.
Ball dazzled with his playmaking during his one season with the Bruins, guiding them to the Sweet 16. The 19-year-old averaged 14.6 points, 6.0 rebounds and 7.6 assists, helping UCLA go 31-5 a season after the program struggled to a 15-17 mark.
But as great as Ball was on the court, its his father LaVar who has garnered most of the attention for his eye-opening comments, comparing his son to the likes of Steph Curry and Jason Kidd. The younger Ball will undoubtedly receive invaluable advice from Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson, who led the franchise to five titles during his Hall of Fame playing career.
The selection of Ball is the first piece in Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinkas overhaul of a Lakers franchise that has suffered through the worst four-year stretch in its illustrious history. Shipping Mozgov and Russell to the Nets cleared more than $22 million of cap space next summer, when LeBron James and Russell Westbrook could opt to become free agents.
The Lakers reportedly are also in trade talks with the Pacers regarding four-time All-Star Paul George, who is a native of Southern California. George, considered one of the best two-way players in the game, could be the cornerstone of the Lakers return to prominence and might lure other superstars to join him in Los Angeles.