Danny Ainge revealed that Lonzo Ball has officially declined an invitation to work out with the Boston Celtics in advance of the upcoming NBA Draft. He shared the news on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher and Rich program this morning.
According to Danny Ainge on our show this morning, Lonzo Ball informed the Celtics that he will not be working out for them. #Celtics— Toucher and Rich (@Toucherandrich) May 25, 2017
The Celtics own the first overall selection and Ball is considered to be one of the the best available prospects. At 6’6”, with impressive court-vision and extended shooting range, he is an intriguing blend of size and skill for his position (point guard).
Most consider Ball to be the second best player available, though more research will be required before any teams have a final ranking on the incoming class. In any case, he has more than enough potential for Boston to conduct its due diligence. They’ll now have to do so without the benefit of a controlled, up-close look at him.
According to Ainge, Ball and his representatives did not provide a reason for declining to participate, a somewhat surprising fact, given the general flamboyance with which his father, LaVar, tends to carry himself. Rebuffing Boston’s offer would appear to be an opportunity for the elder Ball, who has already proclaimed his disinterest in seeing his son play for the Celtics, to lean into his “all press is good press” mentality.
He opted, instead, for a low-key approach in this instance, which will leave Boston guessing at the ultimate reason. It may be that Ball doesn’t want to play for the Celtics. Their roster is filled with talented guards that might limit his chances at immediate playing time.
It’s also possible that Ball wants to arrange his workouts to best support his draft stock. It’s not entirely clear how avoiding Boston might play a role in that process, but it could be as simple as having heard that the Celtics run their workouts in a manner that might accentuate Ball’s limitations rather than his strengths.
There is a lot of strategy that goes into promoting oneself as a prospect. If a player feels they can control that process to their benefit, they have every right to do so. What’s happening between Ball and Boston may be as simple as that.
The exact reasoning behind the decision isn’t necessarily irrelevant at this point, but it’s certainly not critically important. The invitation and decline were cordial, and the Celtics can still draft Ball should they decide he’s the player they want to take. They’d have plenty of time to convince him that Boston is the right fit in the years that follow.
What is important is that Ball won’t be working out for the Celtics individually. They will need to adjust their assessment strategy accordingly. Boston would be wise to monitor whether or not more reasons for why Ball chose to skip their workout arise, but for now this is simply a matter of adjusting how the team plans to evaluate him as a prospect, and should not serve as a factor in determining whether or not to draft him.
Ainge also used his radio spot to dispel the rumor that he tried to trade Isaiah Thomas last summer. Jackie MacMullan suggested such on a recent podcast with Bob Ryan, and while Ainge didn’t reject the notion outright, he did strongly imply that the assertion was untrue.