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Ball Declines to Workout for Celtics Before NBA Draft, and That’s Okay

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Lonzo Ball Declines Workout with Celtics

Danny Ainge has recently revealed that UCLA prospect Lonzo Ball has “politely declined” to work out for the Celtics. Ball, who is projected to be one of the NBA Draft’s top picks, has attracted much attention this season both on and off the court.

The shenanigans with his father are a distraction, but according to every credible NBA source I’ve spoken to or read about, LaVar Ball won’t have any impact on where Lonzo is taken in the draft.

His game has put him in position to likely be drafted first or second in the NBA Draft. But his skills have already been covered here and here. Today we’ll focus on his decision not to work out for Boston.

Back to the recent news.

People have an issue with Lonzo declining the Celtics workout. Why?

Here are some of the responses I’ve heard, and my take on each:


“That’s just not something you do”

Well, it’s something Ben Simmons and Steph Curry did, among others. Declining workouts is seen much more frequently in the NBA than in the NFL or other sports.

Refusing workouts isn’t the only place prospects are trying to take control of their own future. Most players won’t get the medical done at the combine, because they can.

Why put yourself in a position to have less of a chance of accomplishing your goal? For most players, that goal is to be taken as high as possible. For Ball, it’s to not be taken by the Celtics. I have a hard time bashing a guy for knowing what he wants and chasing it.

“It seems entitled”

Well… Yeah. His decisions impact where he’s taken. Other than refusing workouts, there isn’t much Ball can do other than hope he gets selected by the employer he’s hoping to land with.

And Ball is in a position where he really just needs to keep one team from picking him to effectively force his way to LA. If that’s what he wants, it’s the smart move.

You don’t start your own brand and have it succeed as a 7th man. You succeed by starting and being in the game when it matters. It also just so happens that he’s from the LA area, so it’s an easy choice for Ball.

The only reason he should prefer Boston is the chance at a title, which is never guaranteed, especially if the team’s prime contending window coincides with that of Cleveland and Golden State.

“Who does he think he is?”

Ball, or any other player, is free to make their own decisions. Everything has potential risks and rewards. A player projected to go in the second round can decline workouts, but the potential risk of maybe not getting drafted at all is probably not worth the reward.

For Lonzo, what is the risk? If he gets what he wants, he’s in a better location for his brand and playing time. That playing time will likely lead to quicker development, more exposure (helping his brand even more), and likely a bigger second contract.

If he doesn’t get what he wants, he’s the top pick in the NBA Draft and on a contending team. It’s a different game for Lonzo.

No matter what you think of him or what he did at UCLA (not winning a title or being player of the year or whatever you want), it doesn’t matter. He can make this decision because of how good he is.

“You don’t turn down a workout from a storied franchise like the Celtics”

Why not? Larry Bird stopped playing basketball before Lonzo Ball was born. Titles decades ago don’t factor at all into Ball’s decision making, and really shouldn’t.

This is the same thinking that would lead you to believe the Lakers could get premier talent to choose to go to an LA team that wasn’t in any position to contend anytime soon instead of choose to go to teams like the Warriors (in Durant) or the Spurs (in Aldridge).

That’s not how this works. What happened decades ago at a company likely doesn’t have a greater impact than recent history and current situation for how you or me choose who to work for either.

“This will make other players hate him”

Why? Maybe they’ll be a little jealous that he was able to so greatly impact his own situation. Other than that, why would this specifically impact how other players perceive him?

Fans can dislike players for a plethora of reasons, and this one is just as petty and unbecoming as the others. Other NBA players probably won’t have such a visceral reaction as casual fans who need to channel their anger toward teenagers.

Those other NBA players also may have some respect for a guy trying to make a name for himself and control his own destiny. Many guys have experience choosing their team as a free agent, and may see this as a similar decision as that type of decision.

Current NBA players may have other reasons to dislike Lonzo, but this shouldn’t be one of them.



Think what you want, but this recent decision by Ball isn’t reprehensible or damaging to his draft stock. Casual fans may hate the decision, but if you dig into why he made it, there’s really nothing wrong with it. Lonzo is doing everything he can to set himself up well to start off his career and his brand.


Prove em wrong,

Cranjy McB


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