But after starting the game on the floor, Lonzo was removed from the hardwood earlier than usual in the first quarter.
When asked after the game why he’d subbed the rookie out ahead of schedule in the opening period, Luke Walton cracked a joke about the recent drama stemming from Lonzo’s father’s criticism of the Lakers head coach.
Video: Luke Walton cracks joke about LaVar Ball when asked why he took Lonzo Ball out early in the 1st quarter… “His dad was talking sh*% so I took him out early>> https://t.co/fDMM5g7koM #Lakers #LakeShow #LavarBall #LonzoBall pic.twitter.com/JQPTstPDXm
— Shahan Ahmed (@shahanLA) January 8, 2018
“His dad was talking sh*t so I took him out early,” Walton said before a long pause and a smile. “Just kidding.”
LaVar Ball all but called for Walton’s job in an ESPN article published on Sunday.
“Luke doesn’t have control of the team no more. They don’t want to play for him. … Nobody wants to play for him. I can see it,” LaVar said. “No high-fives when they come out of the game. People don’t know why they’re in the game. He’s too young. He’s too young. … He ain’t connecting with them anymore. You can look at every player, he’s not connecting with not one player. … Even if you bring in a LeBron or a [Paul] George, he can’t coach them guys. What is he gonna tell them? He’s too young. He has no control.”
Still, Walton doesn’t appear concerned with a player’s parent throwing a youth-soccer-league-style meltdown.
“I feel very secure in my job status right now,” Walton said before the victory. “[Lakers executives and I] talk all the time. They’re 100 percent behind [us] and supporting what we’re doing.”
It’s great that Walton is so well-equipped to deal with the animated insecure Mr. Potato Head, as it appears LaVar won’t stop being a distraction until he’s the president of the organization and everyone on the team is emulating his son’s busted jumper.