Lonzo Ball Opened Up on What It Was Really Like Getting Traded by the Lakers for Anthony Davis: ‘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’
When the Los Angeles Lakers drafted Lonzo Ball with the second overall pick in the 2017 draft, the UCLA product was projected to be the franchise point guard for the next decade. Magic Johnson was so high on Ball that he traded D’Angelo Russell to the Brooklyn Nets even though the lefty was drafted in 2015.
However, Ball only played two seasons with his hometown Lakers. In the summer of 2019, he was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans as part of the blockbuster Anthony Davis trade. The talented two-way guard spent two seasons with the Pelicans before signing with the Chicago Bulls in restricted free agency this past offseason.
Ball will face the Lakers at Staples Center for the first time in a Bulls uniform on November 15. While he’s pleased to be in Chicago, the California native admitted to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago that the Lakers trading him was eye-opening.
Lonzo Ball on Lakers trading him for Anthony Davis: First time I felt like somebody didn’t want me
Ball was a star in high school and college. He was the main attraction at Chino Hills and UCLA and felt wanted. That’s why when the Lakers traded him for Davis, Ball felt unwanted for the first time in his basketball life.
“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. But it was Anthony Davis, so there was no shame in that. He’s one of the best players to ever play.”
The Lakers won the championship in 2020 behind the stellar play of Davis and LeBron James. Meanwhile, Ball missed the playoffs both years in New Orleans, although he did significantly improve his 3-point shot. In 99 games with the Lakers, Ball shot 31.5% from beyond the arc. The 6-foot-6 playmaker shot 37.6% from 3-point land in 118 games with the Pelicans.
While Ball presumably would have loved to spend his entire career with the Lakers, he’s having a blast with the Bulls, who are 9-4 through the first 13 games of the season.
Lonzo Ball on Bulls: “Chicago is the best place for me”
Ball signed a four-year, $80 million deal with the Bulls as part of a sign-and-trade deal with the Pelicans. He’s averaging 11.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.3 assists on the season and believes he has finally found a home in the NBA.
“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, AK (Artūras Karnišovas) 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.”
The Bulls haven’t made the playoffs since 2017. With Ball, Zach LaVine, and DeMar DeRozan leading the way, Chicago has a good chance of making the postseason this year.
Ball has been through a lot in a short amount of time since entering the NBA. Not only has he played for three teams, but he also filed suit against Alan Foster for damages of more than $2 million, plus interest, alleging that Foster “conspired to embezzle millions of dollars and then divert those funds for his personal use, including to acquire assets in Ethiopia” in 2019.
After dealing with plenty of adversity during his stints with the Lakers and Pelicans, Ball is playing with joy again in Chicago.
Zo: “I’m very grateful for the situation I’m in”
Ball doesn’t have anything to complain about these days. He’s on a winning team, playing for a coach who utilizes him correctly and making millions of dollars performing the sports he loves.
“I just think I’ve been through a lot of stuff. And at the end of the day, basketball is a game and a game that I love. I’m very grateful for the situation I’m in,” Ball said. “I think a lot of the things you can worry about doesn’t really hold a lot of weight in real life. I’m blessed to be able to play the game I love, get paid well and take care of my family. That’s pretty much all that matters to me. I’ve been playing since I was 6 (years old). I fell in love with this game early on. I’m riding it out until I can’t play no more.”
Ball likely won’t make an All-Star team this season. However, he could make an All-NBA defensive team. He’s averaging 1.9 steals and has played a significant role in the Bulls allowing only 102.7 points per game, good for fourth in the NBA.