Lakers’ Lonzo Ball wants Earl Watson as next UCLA coach

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error “I know he’s in the practice facility all the time in the summer, working with guys and helping teams out,” he said. “I just know him personally off the court. He’s helped me with a few things off the court business-wise. I think he’s a good person for the job.”RONDO STAYS ENGAGEDA familiar scene unfolded on Wednesday morning, as Rajon Rondo joined several of his teammates for a 3-point competition after shootaround.Given that he was still wearing a wrap around his right hand less than a week after getting surgery on his ring finger, it was probably a good development that Coach Luke Walton talked him out of the contest. Rondo gave a few efforts shooting left handed before walking off the practice court with Walton escorting him. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersPhoenix Suns head coach Earl Watson yells during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)A presence around the UCLA program, Watson has been one of the reported candidates for the job, and Ball might be his biggest endorsement yet.Ball played one season under the most recently departed coach Steve Alford, who was fired Monday after a home loss to Liberty on Saturday which gave the Bruins a 7-6 start. Alford was 187-124 at UCLA and went to three Sweet Sixteens. Ball was the only consensus All-American whom Alford coached in his five-plus seasons.Sign up for Home Turf and get exclusive stories every SoCal sports fan must read, sent daily. Subscribe here.Ball mentioned he had seen Alford at a recent game, and he had “a lot of love” for how Alford helped his career.“It’s tough. Steve Alford, he’s a good person, good coach,” he said. “He helped me a lot but the job’s open.”Ball said he didn’t see Watson too much when he played at UCLA – Watson was coaching the Suns at the time – but he’s developed an off-court relationship with him. He also acknowledged Watson might be able to connect with players hoping to turn pro quickly, the way Ball did. EL SEGUNDO — The only Bruin on the Lakers has an opinion on whom the next UCLA basketball coach should be.Lonzo Ball said after Wednesday morning’s shootaround that he would like to see Earl Watson, a former Bruin himself, get the head job.“I know Earl personally,” Ball said. “I think he has coaching experience in the league. Obviously, he went there, he’s alumni, so I think he’s a good fit.”Watson, 39, played 15 years in the NBA and coached the Phoenix Suns from February 2016 to just three games into the 2017-18 season. “I explained to him that it’s probably not a great idea for him to be doing shooting competitions,” Walton said with a grin. “But he’s going a little stir crazy over there. He loves playing the game and being hurt this much I think has really been tough on him. So we try to include him as much as we can in what we can.”That role has been frustratingly familiar to Rondo this season: He’s expected to be out until at least late January with his latest injury, after he already spent a 17-game stretch sitting out with a fractured right hand.The Lakers have tried to include him in team activities. As with his last injury stint, his perspective is arguably the most valuable contribution he can make at this point in his recovery.“He’s always talking trash, which kind of keeps the competitive level high, which we encourage around here,” Walton said. “But just using that energy and wisdom he has to share with some of his younger teammates.”last_img

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