A surprising destination may be emerging for Lonzo Ball if he is ultimately traded by the Los Angeles Lakers.
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reported on Sunday that the Chicago Bulls are “intrigue[d]” by the possibility of trading for the 21-year-old point guard. Johnson also notes that the Bulls may be in position to help facilitate a three-team deal that would send disgruntled New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis to the Lakers.
For Ball, who missed 35 games to injury last season and struggled to adapt to LeBron James’ arrival, his playmaking and defensive savvy would make an ideal addition to Chicago’s young core. Fellow UCLA Bruin Zach LaVine is naturally more of a shooting guard, and big men Wendell Carter Jr and Lauri Markkanen can serve as quality pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop partners.
The Bulls have the No. 7 overall pick in this year’s draft plus other assets to offer, but they are not the only young team with interest in acquiring Ball.
Gregory Alan Foster, the former business manager for Big Baller Brand, is being investigated by the FBI for potentially defrauding the Ball family, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times.
Foster, who had known the Ball family since Lonzo was in middle school, was described by Lonzo as being “like my second dad.” Foster was removed from his position back in March, amid rumors that Big Baller Brand would be folding. Lavar Ball denied those rumors, while also referring to Foster as a “snake up in the thing.”
As it turns out, Foster had previously served prison time for running a fraudulent stock scheme that included telling potential clients that NBA stars David Robinson, Robert Horry, and Avery Johnson were investors. He ended up serving five years and met Lavar Ball and his family a decade ago, after getting out of prison.
The FBI investigation is focused on Foster’s behavior with Big Baller Brand, where he is alleged to have taken $1.5 million out of company accounts. In a lawsuit brought against Foster, it is alleged that he influenced Lonzo Ball not to sign with another apparel company but rather help grow Big Baller Brand, and also alleges that Foster drove Lonzo Ball not to try out for any other team besides the Lakers.
The Los Angeles Lakers had a very messy season, and even towards the end, the Ball family and their business associates were causing some additional headaches for the team’s braintrust.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, in late February, the team had to step in and stop guard Lonzo Ball from undergoing unauthorized surgery on his ankle. That surgery was being planned by now-estranged business partner Alan Foster with the knowledge and consent of LaVar Ball.
The Ohio-based surgeon had previously operated on Lonzo’s brother LiAngelo, and the team only found out when Lonzo called GM Rob Pelinka. At that point, the Lakers said they would not allow the procedure, and even threatened to void Lonzo Ball’s contract if he went through with it against their orders.
Pelinka and then-president Magic Johnson worked with Ball’s former agent Harrison Gaines to ensure the procedure did not occur. Pelinka and Johnson even traveled to Ball’s doctor appointments to ensure that he was sticking to his assigned rehab.
Amazingly, Ball’s surgery was being pushed by the same man who Ball is now suing for fraud. It’s been quite the chaotic few months for the Lakers, but the same is true of the Ball family as well. As for the Lakers, things like this are exactly why Johnson ran from the job, and why they need to get their replacement hire absolutely right.
Lonzo Ball has been making some big changes lately and appears to be distancing himself from the Big Baller Brand, but that does not mean his relationship with his father has changed.
Ball announced on Thursday that he and his agent have mutually agreed to part ways, so the Los Angeles Lakers star is in the market for new representation. Some took that to mean the 21-year-old is taking full control of his own career, but Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reports that LaVar Ball is still very much involved as “the shot-caller in orchestrating his son’s next pivotal move.”
Sources told Haynes that LaVar has already met with a few NBA agents on Lonzo’s behalf, and some have reached out to Lonzo and become uninterested when they learned LaVar is still running the show. The biggest issue could be that LaVar has reportedly been asking agencies if they have the power to help push Lonzo and his two brothers, LiAngelo and LaMelo, to the same NBA team.
Lonzo Ball recently filed a lawsuit against a Big Baller Brand co-founder who he says stole a large sum of money from him, and there have been signs that he is looking to sign a new endorsement deal. That would likely make him appealing to agencies, but it’s no surprise LaVar’s involvement is being viewed as a negative.
While LaMelo is just 17 and could still have an NBA future, LiAngelo went undrafted last year and has not drawn any interest from teams. The thought of the three Ball brothers playing on the same NBA team is still nothing more than a family pipe dream.
Lonzo Ball appears to have made some serious changes in both his professional and personal life over the past few weeks, and the latest will be finding new representation.
Ball told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne late Thursday night that he and his agent, Harrison Gaines, have mutually agreed to part ways. Gaines had been Ball’s agent since the 21-year-old left UCLA following his freshman season, and Ball had nothing but good things to say about him.
“Harrison Gaines has been a trusted advisor and close friend for many years,” Ball said. “He guided my NBA career with integrity and always had my best interests at heart. Harrison has always had my back and although we will no longer be working together after mutually deciding to part ways; our relationship will always be bigger than basketball.”
Gaines thanked Ball, who was his first client, and said he “has been nothing short of phenomenal” while the two worked together.
Ball recently filed a lawsuit against a Big Baller Brand co-founder who he says stole a large sum of money from him, but he says Gaines supported him through that and the situation has nothing to do with him and the agent parting ways. Ball has hinted on social media that he is going to leave the Big Baller Brand for a new company, so perhaps he is just starting fresh in as many ways as possible.
Lonzo Ball is taking legal action against a Big Baller Brand co-founder.
Ball filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles on Tuesday in which he alleges Big Baller Brand co-founder Alan Foster defrauded them and stole $1.5 million from him. The suit alleges Foster, who spent time in federal prison for running a Ponzi scheme, schemed to get close to the Ball family to take advantage of them, knowing about the basketball prowess of the three brothers.
Foster, who owns around 16 percent of the shoe/apparel company, allegedly stole $1.5 million from Lonzo. TMZ Sports says Lonzo is asking for over $2 million from Foster.
The negative news surrounding the Ball family and Big Baller Brand has been trickling out over the past 1.5 weeks. We learned in March that Ball was breaking ties with Foster after believing he stole $1.5 million from him. That piece of information was the first in many steps of Ball distancing himself from the brand. He hinted on Instagram at a move to Nike. He even covered up his Big Baller Brand tattoo.
Though the Big Baller Brand was a great idea and had a lot of momentum, their poor logistics, personnel decisions, and execution kept them from developing into the vision LaVar once held.
Lonzo Ball has seemingly been distancing himself from the Big Baller Brand in recent weeks, but his father LaVar is trying to throw cold water on all of the talk that the company is in big trouble.
Lonzo has given numerous signs that he is splitting from the brand his father co-founded, and one of the most noteworthy was when he had a tattoo artist cover up the BBB logo he previously had on his arm. That took place following a report that the company had as much as $1.5 million stolen by family friend and co-founder Alan Foster.
While LaVar says any talk of the Big Baller Brand folding is false, he also told TMZ this week that he doesn’t blame Lonzo for covering up the tattoo.
“Lonzo had to cover that Triple B up anyway. You can’t play with no band-aid when you not even hurt,” LaVar said. “It feels weird playing like that. So, you gotta cover it anyway.”
What LaVar seemed to mean by that is he doesn’t blame Lonzo for being angry after the stunt Foster pulled. He wouldn’t confirm nor deny if Lonzo is leaving the Big Baller Brand for Nike, but he said the talk of the company folding originated when he threatened to close up shop because of what Foster had done.
“We had a meeting before the story came out, man. And, everybody was in they feelings,” he said. “What I mean by that is, we’re not really thinking. ‘Cause I told them we’re shutting down everything, ’cause I don’t want him to get nothing.”
“So, I said it was shut down. And, that’s why everybody heard what I said and was going on them things.”
If a recent social media post from Lonzo is any indication, he is at least considering the possibility of leaving his family’s brand in favor of a more reputable company. But for now, that apparently does not mean the BBB is done.
Charles Barkley is not a fan of LaVar Ball and made that clear once again.
Barkley appeared as a guest on ESPN’s “Get Up” show Wednesday morning and talked about Lonzo Ball breaking ties from Big Baller Brand, the apparel company started by Lonzo’s father, LaVar.
Barkley praised Lonzo for finally breaking free from his dad’s influence and threw a couple jabs at LaVar, calling him a “big mouth jacka–.”
“He should have been his own man from the beginning,” Barkley said of Lonzo. “You can’t let your family members piggy back off your success. This thing has been a disaster from day one. It was never going to work, and I feel bad. His big mouth, jacka– dad has put his kid in an awkward situation all year. I don’t want to see anything bad happen to the kid, but I don’t like his dad at all, and this thing has been a joke from the beginning.”
There are some things I agree with Barkley on and some I disagree with him.
Yes, Lonzo should have been making his own choices from the beginning, but the Big Baller Brand concept has not been a disaster, and certainly wasn’t a bad idea. LaVar and his family achieved extreme awareness for their brand and also seemed to have pretty good sales. The problem is they just never had sufficient infrastructure in place for delivering merchandise, managing customers, and handling orders. That’s why they ended up with an F rating from the Better Business Bureau.
LaVar’s big mistake was overplaying his hand when Lonzo entered the league. They would have been better off cutting some sort of deal with a sneaker company to license the brand and logo, which would have allowed the difficult work to fall with the experts — the shoe companies — while still allowing for growth of their personal brand.
Lonzo Ball is moving on from Big Baller Brand and means business.
The Los Angeles Lakers guard had his Big Baller Brand logo tattoo covered up. His tattoo artist, Herchell Carrasco, posted a photo on Instagram showing the work he did to cover up the logo on the back of Ball’s forearm, near his elbow. The artist converted the BBB logo to dice that display the numbers 1, 2 and 3 — the numbers Lonzo and each of his brothers wear on the court.
This is the latest twist in a series of moves where Lonzo has distanced himself from Big Baller Brand. He broke ties with a Big Baller Brand co-founder after seeing $1.5 million go missing. He then posted on Instagram a hint at leaving BBB for Nike.
There is now even chatter that Big Baller Brand has considered folding. The brand was created by LaVar Ball, the outspoken father of Lonzo and his two other brothers, LiAngelo and LaMelo. Though LaVar once looked like king of the world while Lonzo starred at UCLA and the two other boys had scholarships there, things started unraveling one piece at a time. The family’s efforts to build their own brand seemed successful, but Lonzo appears to feel he is better off elsewhere.
Things seem to be unraveling for the Ball family’s business interests.
According to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, the Ball family has privately considered shutting down Big Baller Brand and all other business ventures involving former partner Alan Foster.
Foster is the subject of suspicion after Lonzo Ball broke all ties with the Big Baller Brand co-founder over $1.5 million in missing money and the revelation of a criminal past. Ball has also hinted at leaving BBB in a cryptic Instagram post.
Ultimately, the consequences of LaVar Ball’s questionable business decisions in the past may be wide-ranging and may lead to the end of the brand. Lonzo, at the very least, seems eager to move on and take control of his own personal situation.