Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle sounded off on an ESPN report Sunday that sourced Lakers forward Lonzo Ball’s father, Lavar Ball, as stating that Los Angeles coach Luke Walton had “lost the team.”
The story from ESPN writer Jeff Goodman, datelined out of Lithuania where Ball’s other sons are playing professionally, appeared on its digital platform and Carlisle was asked about it.
“As president of the NBA Coaches Association, I view the ESPN article as a disgrace,” Carlisle said. “Luke Walton is a terrific young coach bringing along a young team,” Carlisle said. “It’s a difficult task. If you don’t believe it, ask me. We’re going through that now and went through it last year.”
He went on to suggest ESPN, as a television partner of the NBA, had violated the trust of NBA coaches.
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“ESPN is an NBA partner and they’ve been a great one. Part of that partnership is that, the coaches do a lot of things to help them with access, interviews and all those kinds of things. In exchange for that, they should back up the coaches,” Carlisle said.
“Printing an article where the father of an NBA player has an opinion that is printed that is anything like legitimate, erodes trust. Our coaches are upset. Luke Walton doesn’t deserve that.”
Carlisle also called the article an “ignorant distraction.”
Challenged to clarify by ESPN’s Tim McMahon if Carlisle was suggesting that ESPN should run news based on what coaches will like, Carlisle said, “No. I’m saying they should look at their sources and do a better job of determining if their sources have any merit or any validity or are they just blowhard loud mouths.
“That’s not fair.”
The Lakers are 11-27. They played a late Sunday night home game against Atlanta.
Ball’s son, LiAngelo Ball, withdrew from UCLA without playing for the Bruins after he was arrested by Chinese authorities on a shoplifting charge last fall.
President Donald Trump asked the Chinese government to release Ball and two other UCLA players who were being detained.
Ball denied Trump’s statements on the case, sparking a social media battle between the two.
The Lakers visit the Mavericks at 1 p.m. Saturday.