Although Alex Caruso is the one making headlines for detailing the manner in which the LA Lakers low-balled him in free agency, he’s not the only one experiencing a homecoming of sorts with the Chicago Bulls visiting Staples Center on Monday.
Point-man Lonzo Ball, who the Lakers took out of nearby UCLA with the second pick of the 2017 NBA draft, will also be on hand.
Ball is already on his second team since the Lakers sent him to NOLA in 2019 as part of the package that netted Anthony Davis. However, he still has fond memories of his fledgling days as a pro player with the team he grew up watching with his (big) baller brothers.
“It was nice to play at home,” Ball told NBC Sports Chicago. “My whole family was here — family and friends — coming to games.”
No Hard Feelings
Hopes were high for Ball when he first came to the Lakers four years ago. There were some concerns about his shooting ability in the early going — his rookie field goal percentage checked in at just 36% — but his court vision and ability to push pace were apparent from day one.
Nevertheless, the Lakers went with the super-team approach over developing its young players. And the fact that he was included in the trade for Davis threw him for a loop initially.
“It was different for me,” Ball said. “I know it’s part of the business, but it was the first time I felt like somebody didn’t really want me in a way, I guess.”
Ultimately, he was able to square it away in his mind, though.
“It was Anthony Davis, so there was no shame in that. He’s one of the best players to ever play.”
Ball also felt that his move to the New Orleans Pelicans was an opportunity for himself and the other players that were traded to flip the script on their careers to date.
“For myself, [Brandon Ingram] and Josh Hart as well, we were happy to get to a new situation and have a start-over moment,” he said. “I think it helped my career personally. In the long run, it made me a better person and a better player.”
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‘The Best Place For Me’
In the end, the move worked out for Ball. His three-point shot came along as a member of the Pels, with whom he established himself as one of the better point guards in the Association. Then he was able to secure a four-year, $80 million deal with Chicago as part of a sign-and-trade agreement.
Now, he feels as though he’s in the place he’s meant to be.
“I think everything happens for a reason. I’m where I’m supposed to be now,” Ball said. “It feels great. Early on the process, [Bulls decision-makers Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley] did a great job. Obviously, the coaches wanted me here. My teammates, we all have great relationships.
“For me, I wanted to come to a place where I felt like I fit, a place that wanted me for me and didn’t want me to change. Chicago is the best place for me.”
Through 13 games this season, Ball is averaging 11.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.9 steals per game for the new-look Bulls. He is also hitting a career-best 41.6% of his triples.