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#pounditFriday, September 30, 2022

Articles tagged: LaMelo Ball

Hornets adding notable backup behind LaMelo Ball

LaMelo Ball gesturing

Jan 8, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball (2) reacts after making a three point basket against the Milwaukee Bucks during the second period at the Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

LaMelo Ball will be backed up next season by a fellow former top-ten pick.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on Wednesday that veteran guard Dennis Smith Jr. has signed with the Charlotte Hornets on a one-year deal. The Hornets were in the market for more point guard depth after Isaiah Thomas’ contract expired this summer. Smith is also a native of North Carolina who played his college ball at NC State.

Smith, 24, was selected by the Dallas Mavericks with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft but has proven to be a bust to this point of his career. Prior to Charlotte, he had played for four different NBA teams with his stats getting worse and worse ever since a solid rookie year. That was not entirely Smith’s fault though as he had battled injuries and clunky fits on his teams.

With the Hornets, Smith figures to get a nice look as the only true backup point guard on the roster (Terry Rozier starts at shooting guard next to Ball and 22-year-old James Bouknight is more of a 2 as well). Plus between Ball’s flashy play and Smith’s bounce-house athleticism, Hornets’ practices could quickly become must-watch affairs.

Report: Hornets may sign 1 new veteran mentor for LaMelo Ball

LaMelo Ball gesturing

Jan 8, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball (2) reacts after making a three point basket against the Milwaukee Bucks during the second period at the Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

LaMelo Ball could be getting a new mentor who has four times the NBA experience that he does.

Veteran NBA reporter Marc Stein wrote this week on his Substack page that the Charlotte Hornets have added ex-lottery pick Elfrid Payton to the list of point guards that they are interested in signing.

Stein also reiterates previous reporting about Charlotte’s interest in former All-Star Isaiah Thomas, who played for the Hornets last season, as well as a potential reunion with this franchise great.

The 28-year-old Payton spent last year with the Phoenix Suns as a backup to Chris Paul, seeing only around ten minutes per contest. At his peak, Payton averaged 12.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game as the starting point guard on the Orlando Magic in 2016-17. He is about to enter his ninth NBA season.

Payton is the youngest of the point guards that the Hornets are reportedly eyeing and would be an ideal fit behind Ball. The journeyman is a pass-first player who gets into the paint easily and provides reliable defense, traits that any young point guard can learn from. Just cross your fingers that Payton does not give Ball any advice in one particular area.

LaMelo Ball finally making big change before third NBA season

LaMelo Ball gesturing

Jan 8, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball (2) reacts after making a three point basket against the Milwaukee Bucks during the second period at the Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

LaMelo Ball sold a lot of jerseys during his breakout second NBA season, but all of that merchandise now officially qualifies as throwback.

Ball is changing his jersey number from No. 2 to No. 1 next season, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Ball wanted to wear No. 1 when he came into the NBA, but that number was occupied by Malik Monk at the time. Monk is no longer with the team. Ball was very vocal about wanting to switch from No. 2 to No. 1 last year, but he was unable to do so for contractual reasons. He supposedly missed the deadline to make the change, though he seemed to think it should have been allowed.

Now, Ball will finally get his preferred number. He wore No. 1 throughout his time at Chino Hills High School. He even tried to negotiate with Monk for the number during his rookie year but was unsuccessful. It clearly means a lot to him.

LaMelo Ball roasts Chet Holmgren over draft outfit

Chet Holmgren pointing

Oct 31, 2021; Spokane, WA, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs center Chet Holmgren (34) points to the guy he was covering during a game against the Eastern Oregon Mountaineers in the second half at McCarthey Athletic Center. Bulldogs won 115-62. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Chet Holmgren’s draft day look definitely ain’t it for one current NBA star.

The former Gonzaga star showed up to Thursday’s NBA Draft wearing an all-black suit. Holmgren explained his outfit in a video posted to the NBA’s official Twitter page. Namely, Holmgren touched on the chain that he was wearing — a pair of dice set to three and four because Holmgren wore No. 34 in college and No. 7 for Team USA (three plus four equaling seven).

Charlotte Hornets star LaMelo Ball was not feeling Holmgren’s fit though and roasted Holmgren in a tweet.

“he actin up,” wrote Ball. “i kno tht ain’t a 7 on his neck.”

The seven-footer Holmgren ended up going No. 2 overall to the Oklahoma City Thunder, meaning Ball will only have to play him a couple times a year.

Though it is unclear if Ball was referring to this, you actually do not want to roll a seven if you are shooting craps because it means the end of your turn. When it comes to the sense of fashion though, you can be the judge of if Ball has a better one than Holmgren does.

LaMelo Ball reveals what hardest part of playing in Lithuania was

LaMelo Ball gesturing

As he lights the sky on fire for the Charlotte Hornets this season, it is easy to forget that LaMelo Ball was once a 16-year-old playing overseas in Lithuania. Ball himself certainly has not forgotten though.

In an interview this week with SLAM Magazine, the Hornets star Ball spoke on how playing in Lithuania, specifically the difficult conditions he endured, helped shape him. Ball said the sleeping arrangements were especially hard.

“Honestly after Lithuania, I didn’t give a f–k where I got drafted to,” he said. “The beds? You roll off to the left, you fall off. You roll off to the right, you fall off. Motherf–king calves hanging off the bed. Not feet, calves hanging off the bed! It was bad, bro. Once you get through that, it was like, ‘I don’t care where y’all put me in. As long as I’m in the States and I got water, I’m good.’

“That whole s–t bruh, it felt like one big a– night!” Ball added. “That s–t was crazy. Food was hard to eat out there. Hella cold. Nobody around. That’s pretty much when I just locked in. I’m like, ‘Yeah, I don’t really need too much. Just get it done and grind.’ … The mental s–t goes back to Lithuania. Ever since all that, I ain’t gon’ lie, my mental has been straight. Ain’t nothing you can do. I even sat the bench there. I literally did everything out there.”

SLAM Magazine’s entire piece on Ball’s basketball journey is worth reading in full. You can do so here.

Ball is 6-foot-7 and was only a few inches shorter than that when he was in Lithuania. That probably didn’t help his cause in fitting on the beds there.

Lithuania, where Ball played professionally for BC Vytautas, was part of his unconventional path to the NBA. At the direction of father LaVar, Ball went from Chino Hills High School straight to Lithuania. He then briefly played in his father’s self-created league, the Junior Basketball Association (JBA), before spending another year in Australia with the NBL’s Illawarra Hawks.

Ball’s roundabout route ended up paying off as he was drafted No. 3 overall by the Hornets in 2020, won Rookie of the Year last season, and was named an All-Star in the East this season. As for skipping college altogether, Ball hilariously does not regret that one single bit.

Photo: Jan 8, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball (2) reacts after making a three point basket against the Milwaukee Bucks during the second period at the Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

LaMelo Ball thinks fan needs to be beat up over disrespectful act

LaMelo Ball gesturing

LaMelo Ball definitely does not mess around when it comes to his ride.

A photo went viral this week of a fan pulling his pants down and mooning the camera right in front of what appeared to be Ball’s Lamborghini in the Charlotte Hornets’ parking lot. Ball has a very distinctive yellow-green car that he has posted pictures of on Instagram before.

The All-Star guard essentially confirmed that it was his car the fan had disrespected and said that the fan needed to be beat up over the act.

“He need his a– beat,” tweeted Ball (profanity edited by LBS). “Somebody handle my light weight out there.”

Ball has since deleted the tweet advocating for violence against the fan. You can see Ball’s tweet plus the obscene photo that led to his response here.

The fan’s picture and the subsequent response from Ball were posted on Sunday. The Hornets played the Nets that day in Brooklyn, winning 119-110.

Ball, who is averaging 20.0 points and 7.4 assists per game this season, is largely seen as a goofy young star. But this is not the first time that the 20-year-old has called for someone to get a beating before.

Photo: Jan 8, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball (2) reacts after making a three point basket against the Milwaukee Bucks during the second period at the Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

LaMelo Ball’s trash talk against Clippers backfired

LaMelo Ball makes a hand gesture

LaMelo Ball is one of the most exciting young players in the league, in part because of his supreme confidence in his own abilities. On Sunday against the LA Clippers though, that backfired on him a bit.

Clippers forward Justise Winslow blocked Ball’s shot during the first half and stared Ball down a bit.

After the game, Winslow said that Ball was talking some trash to him following the block.

“He kinda was just like, ‘Don’t poke the bear,'” said Winslow, per Mirjam Swanson of Southern California News Group. “Melo was like, ‘I’ll go get ten in a row.’ And I was like, ‘Go do it then.'”

Winslow’s block came at the 6:16 mark of the second quarter. Ball then went scoreless for the rest of the period, going 0-for-2 from the field. Ball did go on to score 14 points in the second half. But most of those points came with Winslow on the bench. The Clippers ended up winning in a 115-90 blowout.

Winslow did add in his postgame comments that he had “a lot of respect” for Ball. But it looks like he got the better of the young Hornets star on Sunday.

Ball is an excellent player who is averaging 19.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 7.6 assists per game this year. He is the unquestioned leader of the Hornets and is putting up even better numbers than he did last season when he won Rookie of the Year. Ball’s confidence is also a major part of his success. But sometimes, that confidence can go south on Ball like we saw on Sunday and like we have also seen before that.

Photo: Jan 8, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball (2) reacts after making a three point basket against the Milwaukee Bucks during the second period at the Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

LaMelo Ball sued by publicist for millions over shoe deal

LaMelo Ball makes a hand gesture

LaMelo Ball signed a massive endorsement deal with Puma ahead of the 2020 NBA Draft, and a publicist claims the Charlotte Hornets star never paid her what he owed her for helping him secure the contract.

According to a lawsuit obtained by TMZ, publicist Amber Johnson says Ball hired her in 2019 to help him secure endorsement deals. She says she helped him land a video game streaming show, so Ball asked her to continue working with him. But after Ball signed his $100 million deal with Puma, Johnson says the 20-year-old never paid her.

Johnson says Ball and his representatives agreed to give her 10 percent of any business deal she helped Ball secure. She claims she helped facilitate Ball’s deal with Puma and is entitled to 10 percent of that, as well as $4,800 in expenses for which she was never reimbursed from various other projects.

Johnson is seeking damages in excess of $10 million.

Ball is averaging 19.3 points, 7.6 assists and 7.3 rebounds per game in his second NBA season. He has already made some noteworthy connections since coming into the league. Now, he’s facing his first mega-lawsuit.

Photo: Jan 8, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball (2) reacts after making a three point basket against the Milwaukee Bucks during the second period at the Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

LaMelo Ball shares surprising change LaVar made for him in childhood

LaMelo Ball

LaVar Ball played a very active role in the upbringing and development of his three basketball-playing sons. Now the youngest one is sharing just how involved LaVar actually was.

Charlotte Hornets star LaMelo Ball spoke this week in an interview with Shams Charania of The Athletic. During the interview, LaMelo made the surprising revelation that he and middle brother LiAngelo were born left-handed but that LaVar changed them so that they would be right-handed.

“Me and my middle brother Gelo, we both were born left-handed and then our pops changed us,” said LaMelo. “When we eat at the table, [oldest Ball brother] Lonzo and my pops are right-handed so me and Gelo was hitting them. He changed all of us so we all right.

“I go back to left now,” added LaMelo. “Right when I left the house and everything, I did everything that I do with my left.”

The context of the question was how LaMelo is so fluid with both hands, his left hand just as effective as his right hand.

LaVar’s methods seem to have worked just fine. LaMelo is a great shooter, hitting 39.1 percent on threes and 90.1 percent on free throws this season. The same is true for LiAngelo, who is considered to be the best pure shooter in the family and is hitting 53.6 percent on threes for the Greensboro Swarm of the G League.

Obviously, LaVar has drawn plenty of infamy over the years due to his many boisterous comments, even as recently as this month. But you can’t say that he was not highly involved in the lives of his three sons.

Jul 5, 2019; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Basketball player LaMelo Ball in attendance of the New Orleans Pelicans against the New York Knicks game during the NBA Summer League at Thomas & Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

LaMelo Ball, Kobe Bryant share 1 key similarity, Hornets executive says

LaMelo Ball

An executive for the Charlotte Hornets can see a bit of the Mamba Mentality in LaMelo Ball.

Hornets GM Mitch Kupchak spoke this week with SI’s Chris Mannix for a feature on the 20-year-old Hornets star Ball. While Kupchak said that he would not compare Ball to the late Kobe Bryant, he did note one key similarity between the two players.

“Whether it’s making a bad pass or two because maybe he tries to stretch the limits of the pass, he’ll do it a third time,” said Kupchak of Ball. “If he misses two or three 3s, and there’s two minutes left to the game, he’ll take another one. He doesn’t get rattled, and he has great confidence in his abilities.”

Kupchak is more than qualified to speak on Bryant, having helped oversee Bryant’s entire progression in the NBA. Kupchak was a member of the Los Angeles Lakers’ front office from the time that Bryant was drafted in 1996 to the time that he retired in 2016. Unwavering confidence was indeed one of Bryant’s hallmarks as a player. He once famously said, “I would go 0-30 before I would go 0-9. 0-9 means you beat yourself, you psyched yourself out of the game.”

As for Ball, he is well on his way to greatness with 19.9 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 8.1 assists per game in just his second NBA season. Ball never loses his confidence, even when he does something embarrassing, and Kupchak believes that is definitely an important quality for Ball to have.

Photo: Jul 5, 2019; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Basketball player LaMelo Ball in attendance of the New Orleans Pelicans against the New York Knicks game during the NBA Summer League at Thomas & Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports