(UPDATED) LaVar Ball, the father of Los Angeles Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball, says the players "don't want to play for" head coach Luke Walton.
Ball was up at 5 a.m. local time in Birstonas, Lithuania, on Saturday to watch Lonzo play in his first game back with the Lakers since suffering a sprained shoulder on Dec. 23.
LaVar Ball, who is staying in Birstonas while youngest sons LiAngelo and LaMelo get ready to make their professional debuts with Lithuanian team Prienu Vytautas, told ESPN's Jeff Goodman that the 37-year-old Walton has lost the team.
"You can see they're not playing for Luke no more," Ball told ESPN. "Luke doesn't have control of the team no more. They don't want to play for him."
Lonzo Ball, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, finished with 11 points and five assists in 27 minutes in the Lakers' 108-94 loss to Charlotte. The Lakers (11-27) have lost nine straight games.
"That's a good team," LaVar Ball told ESPN. "Nobody wants to play for him (Walton). I can see it. No high-fives when they come out of the game. People don't know why they're in the game. He's too young. He's too young. ... He ain't connecting with them anymore. You can look at every player, he's not connecting with not one player."
Both Walton and Lonzo Ball responded Sunday, saying the Lakers' head coach has not lost the locker room during the losing streak.
When asked whether he is fine with Walton as his head coach, Lonzo Ball said, "I'll play for anybody."
"He's a grown man," Ball said of his father's comments following the Lakers' shootaround at Staples Center. "Like I said, he is going to say what he wants to say. I can't (do) nothing about it."
When asked about having a preference for playing for certain coaches, the rookie said "my job is to play basketball. I don't decide who coaches."
Walton was asked if he has received assurances from anyone in Lakers' management about whether his job is on the line.
"Yeah. We're, I feel very secure in my job status right now," Walton said. "We talk all the time. They're 100 percent behind and supporting what we're doing.
"I don't see that the players aren't playing hard. I think the players are playing very hard, we've been through a hard stretch, but they are giving us what they have and we're going to keep working and we'll be fine."
Meanwhile, LaVar Ball said he is confident that Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James will be coming to the Lakers this offseason as a free agent.
"LeBron's coming to L.A. I know he's coming to L.A.," Ball, the creator of Big Baller Brand, told ESPN. "LeBron is not a fool. What's the only way he can beat (Michael) Jordan? You can't get more championships. Only one way, to say every team I've gone to I've won a championship. Go to Lakers and win a championship, then you're better than Jordan.
"You can't give my son the best player in the league, and don't expect them not to win. Get rid of everybody. Give him LeBron and Gelo (LiAngelo Ball). You got a 2 and a 3. And it's a win. It's a wrap."
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