Will the Los Angeles Lakers pick Lonzo Ball with the no. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft?
Despite the UCLA guard not yet having met with the team and not having worked out for the Lakers' brass, rumors are abound that the Lakers will pass on the prospect, at least in part because of his outspoken and polarizing father, Lavar Ball. Still, almost unanimously, the draft boards and analysts think that Ball should be the no. 2 pick.
One guy who seemingly isn't buying the narrative that the Lakers will pass on Ball is former Lakers coach and current Miami Heat executive Pat Riley. Riley sat down next to Earvin "Magic" Johnson, who is the Lakers President of Basketball Operations and the man who will likely make the decision on whether or not to draft Ball, for a TeamedUp event sponsored by American Express on Monday night in downtown Los Angeles.
At one point, Riley shared the greatest challenges of being an NBA executive in the first year with Johnson and the crowd listening eagerly.
"When things aren't going good the first year, he's going to want to go down there and be Lonzo Ball's mentor," Riley said, as Johnson began to laugh and even gave a high-five to his former coach for the name drop.
After the crowd settled down, Riley continued to his original point about giving up control and being patient when things aren't going right: "It's not easy to sit there."
Pat Riley said Magic Johnson is still a leader and is going to have the urge to go onto the court and be Lonzo Ball's mentor next season. pic.twitter.com/0LvtL18U8n— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) June 6, 2017
While the evening touched on a variety of experiences the two men shared and whether Johnson would beat LeBron James one-on-one (Riley thinks Johnson would win), the highlight of the night had to be Riley's hint at Ball's future in LA.
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The manner in which Riley purposely mentioned Ball as a part of the Lakers without adding an "if" or introducing any qualifiers suggested that the Heat executive believes Ball will be wearing purple and gold in the fall.
Johnson's reaction to the suggestion did not exactly scream of a denial. Rather, the man who went to nine NBA Finals in 12 years literally celebrated the reference and the suggestion.
Obviously, none of these reactions or thoughts are binding and a great deal can occur between the draft workouts and the team and player meetings to change minds and hearts, but if nothing else, one would imagine that the rumors that the Lakers are looking to pass on Ball with the no. 2 pick may be greatly exaggerated.