EL SEGUNDO — At last you can say the Lakers made a no-brainer draft pick and mean it as a compliment.
Lonzo Ball is a jumper cable in search of a battery, a transponder in search of an express lane.
In a time when basketball is growing out of its pigeonholes, he is the point guard we always grew up with, the guy who puts zeroes on the end of everyone else’s contract.
He makes players better. Imagine, if the Lakers actually give him some.
Near the end of a traffic jam of interviews — “media stuff,” Ball said from New York — he was asked which Lakers he might benefit the most. He immediately tabbed Brandon Ingram, last year’s No. 2 draft choice who bravely tried to swim out of the Lakers’ morass but sank like everyone else. Ball said he’s noticed that Ingram could score if given a chance. Ball brings the chance.
Ball’s selection was only the first domino. This is the first week of the 2017-18 season. It runs from Draft Night until the end of the free-agency bazaar, which happens sometime in July. It would be irreverent to suggest that the season goes on hold for the next nine months, until the playoffs begin. But it wouldn’t be inaccurate.
Paul George said he wanted to become a Laker even before he knew Ball would be, too. It won’t be up to George until this time next year. The Indiana Pacers, to whom George gave a one-year notice, are accepting inquiries from the Lakers, Cleveland, Boston and others. But they don’t have much of a hammer. They will lose George without compensation if they don’t make a deal now.
There are times when the next offseason also dwarfs the upcoming season, and this might be one.
Lakers fans are inhaling every rumor: LeBron James is upset with Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert. James’ wife wants to live in L.A. all year. James feels that traffic jams and car crashes are part of its destiny and his growth as a human being.
Everyone is adding two plus two and getting 23 and it might work out just that way. But just…