LiAngelo Ball, brother of Lonzo and LaMelo Ball, is expected to sign with the Charlotte Hornets for the NBA‘s upcoming summer league in Las Vegas, according to Sports Illustrated’s Rod Boone. LiAngelo is the middle brother in the Ball family, and thus far, is the least accomplished on the basketball court. While Lonzo and LaMelo were top draft picks, LiAngelo has not yet played in an NBA game.
Ball signed a G-League contract with the Oklahoma City Blue mere days before the pandemic ended that league’s season, and most recently, he inked an Exhibit-10 deal with the Detroit Pistons before the 2020-21 season began, but was waived without playing in a game for them. Ball went undrafted in 2018 after a brief and controversial stint at UCLA.
NBA teams frequently sign brothers of their prominent players to participate in Summer League. Chris Smith, brother of J.R. Smith, played for the Knicks in 2012’s Summer League, for example, but Charlotte’s situation has a chance to be unique. Lonzo Ball will be a restricted free agent this offseason. The Hornets have the cap space to make an offer if they want to, though with Terry Rozier and fellow restricted free agent Devonte’ Graham already flanking LaMelo in the backcourt, that appears unlikely. But there is a slim chance that all three brothers are technically members of the Hornets at one time. Their father, LaVar Ball, has spoken openly in the past about getting the three of them onto the same team.
Even if that winds up being the case, though, there is no guarantee that they’d actually wind up playing together. Well-known veteran free agents like Lonzo never play in Summer League, and while second-year players frequently do, LaMelo was so good as a rookie that he has seemingly passed the point in his career in which it would be necessary. For LiAngelo to even play with LaMelo as a Hornet, he’d likely at least have to last with the team into the preseason, if not the regular season itself. He hasn’t proven capable of doing that yet in his career.
But plenty of players have used their more famous brothers to help launch careers of their own. Thanasis Antetokounmpo has seemingly found a home with the Milwaukee Bucks, who also employ his superstar brother Giannis. Seth Curry began his career with the Santa Cruz Warriors of the G-League. He never played a regular-season game alongside his big brother Stephen Curry in Golden State, but that G-League start helped him become a valuable NBA player Ball may never reach that level himself, but his best chance at doing so probably involves sharing an organization with one of his brothers. Now, it looks like he’ll have a chance to do just that.