Lonzo Ball Signs with Klutch Sports

by Daniel Azimi

After his third season in the NBA, Lonzo Ball is distances himself from his father

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Lonzo Ball (left) and his agent Rich Paul (right)

Lonzo Ball, the starting point guard of the New Orleans Pelicans, signed with agent Rich Paul of Klutch Sports on September 14th, 2020. Paul will be Ball’s fourth agent, having previously signed with Harrison Gaines, Creative Artists Agency, and Roc Nation. According to Ball, the decision was completely independent. “I wanted to lead my career, picking my own representation—just solely as my decision—was step one in that process”. Through this decision, Lonzo Ball is trying to become more independent from his controlling father, Lavar Ball, in the hopes of leading his career and improving as a basketball player.

Throughout his entire life, Lonzo has been held up to the standards set by his father, Lavar Ball. Leading up to Lonzo’s draft, Lavar hyped up his three sons to the point that they were treated like celebrities and established himself as a pop culture figure. He publicly controlled the professional career of his son, steering him towards the Los Angeles Lakers. He adopted the saying, “speak it into existence”, claiming that his sons’ success, especially Lonzo’s, was due to his outspokenness. He even made a cameo on Saturday Night Live. However, this publicity did not come without consequence, especially for Lonzo. Lavar’s dominating attitude towards his son has caused numerous fights, the most notable of which happened in May of 2019. This quarrel ended in a falling out between the two, and also brought about the end of Lonzo’s involvement in the Big Baller Brand, the family's signature brand.

The negative effect of Lavar’s controlling personality can also be seen in Lonzo’s performance in the NBA. During his rookie season, Lonzo averaged 10.2 PPG, 7.2 APG, and shot 30% from the three-point line. To say the least, this statline is underwhelming for the second pick of the NBA draft. He was consistently outperformed by his rookie teammate, Kyle Kuzma, who was drafted as the 27th pick and averaged 16.1 PPG. After his rookie season, many basketball fans argued that the publicity surrounding Lonzo wasn’t benefiting him as a basketball player and that he would continue to underperform. Three years later, there is no doubt that Lonzo’s imposing father has caused him to miss expectations. This year, Lonzo Ball finished with a statline similar to his previous years. He averaged 11.8 PPG, 7.0 APG, and 6.1 RPG. This was a slight improvement from the 2018-2019 season, where he averaged 9.9 PPG, 5.4 APG, and 5.3 RPG. Lonzo has not performed like a second pick and has crumbled under the pressure his father placed him under.

Lonzo Ball is at a point in his career where he needs to get space from his father to truly improve. Lonzo’s decision to sign with Klutch Sports is the first step in Lonzo’s path to stardom. As this decision was made almost entirely independently, it is a step away from his father and a demonstration of free will. Without his father overseeing everything that he does, Lonzo will be able to play more freely. He can now focus on what he believes is the best course of action for improvement. This decision could not have been made at a better time, as in his first year away from the Los Angeles Lakers, Lonzo Ball has been displaying signs of improvement. He managed to improve his three-point shooting, hitting 37% of his shots from beyond the arc. Hopefully, from here on out, Lonzo will be able to play up to the standards that he has been held to ever since entering the league, and perhaps he will be able to receive the title of Most Improved Player next season.

By switching agencies, Ball is showing his desire to be independent of his father in a professional context. Despite being a prodigy in high school and a star in college, Lonzo has been performing subpar in the NBA, largely due to his father’s pressures and controlling attitude. By becoming a more independent basketball player, Lonzo will be able to improve without the restrictions of his father, all while keeping their father-son relationship intact.