Former Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonzo Ball spent two seasons with the team until he became part of its June trade package to acquire Anthony Davis.
Ball recently reflected on his brief tenure with the Lakers and indicated that he was never able to live up to his promise with the team.
The inevitability of being traded dawned on Ball as it became more apparent that the Lakers were going to continue avidly pursuing an acquisition of Davis. In some sense, Ball sees playing for the New Orleans Pelicans as a way to chart a new course.
“It was only a matter of time before a trade happened,” Ball said. “I pretty much knew a trade would happen. Any time you have a player like Anthony Davis available, I knew it was going to be my time. I was looking forward to it and I was excited for a new start. Getting out of L.A. for the first time in my life. I’m happy about it.
“It was just time for a change. I got hurt both years and didn’t do what I wanted to do. I was blessed to stay home and play in front of everybody, but it wasn’t working over there.”
Those injuries limited Ball to just 52 games as a rookie during the 2017-18 campaign and only 47 last year. Ball was one of many Lakers who nursed an injury during the 2018-19 season, which was a chief reason why the team failed to again reach the postseason.
Ball came to the Lakers as the second overall pick of the 2017 NBA Draft and had also been under the pressure of being relentlessly hyped by his father LaVar. Pelicans executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin feels that the younger Ball is now motivated to finally live up to that promise.
“You can tell Lonzo feels like he has something to prove,” Griffin told Shams Charania of The Athletic. “All he has to do is take care of business every day. It’s just, get better, be better tomorrow.
“He hasn’t been healthy for so long that just watching him play free and easy is a blessing. He’s not even finding his rhythm yet; he went seven months without playing basketball. But he knows it, and he just works and works through it.”
Ball will have the luxury of largely being under the radar this season because of the presence of teammate and top draft pick Zion Williamson. As Ball begins season number three, he can offer Williamson some sage advice on how to avoid the pitfalls of hype, while hopefully furthering his career in the process.