LaMelo, Lonzo and LiAngelo Ball Sign With JAY-Z’s Roc Nation Sports
The Ball brothers have all signed with Roc Nation Sports, JAY-Z’s sports management company.
LaMelo Ball’s manager, Jermaine Jackson, confirmed the new deal with ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.
“This was a family decision,” Jackson said, via TMZ. “This is now an extended family. They put together a beautiful game plan with Jay-Z. The basketball game is about to change. They are going to create something totally new.”
Lonzo, LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball were previously represented by CAA, but left in March, around the same time agent Leon Rose left the company to serve as president of basketball operations for the New York Knicks, per CBS Sports.
Jackson says the Ball family had been shopping for an agency but after speaking with “several agents” — they ultimately decided to rock with Jigga, who is a longtime supporter of the family’s Big Baller Brand.
“The family had good vibes with Roc Nation,” said Jackson.
“I’ve known Jay-Z since I played for the Knicks, but this is what the kids wanted to do. Jay-Z is a master at what he does. He’s global. It’s power beyond power,” he added.
Roc Nation’s first major project with the Ball family will be securing a shoe contract for LaMelo.
“He’s still wide open,” Jackson said. “He hasn’t signed with anyone. Everyone is kicking in the door. Melo is open to whatever. With this pandemic going on, we don’t know what things are going to look like.”
As noted by CBS, the Knicks will hold a top pick in the upcoming 2020 NBA Draft, and LaMelo is one of the top available prospects.
Meanwhile, Lonzo still has another year on his contract with the New Orleans Pelicans and LiAngelo signed with the Oklahoma City Blue of the G-League rior to the coronavirus pandemic.
Someone will 'rise to the occasion' in Browns competition at right guard
For the first time in recent memory, just about every starting position on the Browns offense appears to have a cast of front-runners in place before the first practice of training camp.
There's no question about who will be the quarterback and the top two running backs. The same can be said about the wide receivers – at least the first two. On the offensive line, spots at center, left guard and both tackle positions can be penciled in with veterans or, at the left tackle position, a promising rookie first-round draft pick.
But what about right guard?
That position is the only blank space the Browns can't quite fill on their offensive depth chart at the moment. Offensive line coach Bill Callahan, however, believes Cleveland can find its starter internally.
"We have not really set a depth chart, listed a starter or named the RG position," Callahan said Thursday in a video call with local reporters. "That is up for grabs. I really believe we have some excellent players in there in Wyatt Teller, Drew Forbes, Colby Gossett and Willie Wright. There will be a lot of time for competition. I think that will sort itself out as we move along."
If training camp began today, Teller would be the leader in experience. The three-year veteran committed just two penalties and allowed one sack in nine starts at the position last year, according to Pro Football Focus. Gossett is the only other member of this group who has started a game, and he has just four.
Forbes isn't far behind Teller, though. He received reps at just about every offensive line position as a training camp rookie last August, and he was a serious candidate to win the right guard position before he suffered a knee injury in the final preseason game. If Forbes isn't a Week 1 starter, he could be viewed as a viable backup for a number of positions on the offensive line.
Gossett and Wright, meanwhile, carry a combined five games of experience — all of which were played by Gossett with the Arizona Cardinals in 2018.
Callahan, who's been an offensive line coach at the college and professional level for over four decades, hopes that someone will emerge from the large group of candidates, but he can't pick any frontrunners until he sees them on the field. That won't happen until the Browns can make a safe return to team practices after the completion of the virtual offseason program created to allow players to train during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I am still getting familiarized with all the players," Callahan said. "I have not met them all yet — just only virtually. It is always such a change, and we are just going to keep assessing and evaluating the position as we move forward."
There's one more player whom Callahan didn't mention in his list of candidates who can't be ruled out, either: Chris Hubbard.
Hubbard, a seven-year veteran, has played exclusively as a tackle in Cleveland thus far, but he does have prior NFL experience at center and guard with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Callahan believes Hubbard has the athleticism to play a variety of positions even though Jack Conklin and Jedrick Wills Jr. are set for the starting tackle jobs. Hubbard could be used as a swing tackle, but his athleticism could be also suitable at right guard under the new wide-zone blocking scheme coach Kevin Stefanski will utilize on offense.
"I think he is a really good football player," said Callahan, who also said he was interested in Hubbard as a free agent when Callahan was a coach with the Washington Redskins in 2018. "I know his heart is in it. I think he has a lot of value and a lot of upside. He will definitely help us at some point. You can never have enough of those guys. The value of a player like Chris. You just can't make up for it."
The right guard competition certainly will be one of the top battles when the Browns make their return to the practice fields.
And under the tutelage of Callahan, one of the most experienced offensive line coaches in the league, the position battle is in great hands.
"We are just going to keep assessing and evaluating the position as we move forward," Callahan said. "There are enough candidates in there that I think someone will rise to the occasion and take over that spot."
Tristan Thompson Checks In from Cali While the NBA Ruminates
light years away from the soft-spoken Canadian kid in the cardigan that the Cavs tabbed with the fourth overall pick almost nine years ago, these days Tristan Thompson has the cool, calm veteran presence of someone who’s seen it all.
He’s the squad’s older brother, and he relishes that role. Even with Andre Drummond on the roster, T-Top’s the muscle.
And with big decisions upcoming this offseason whether the Wine & Gold are able to complete this campaign or not, Tristan maintained that steady vet demeanor when he took a moment to meet the virtual media from his California home.
With updates trickling out about Adam Silver’s decisions and several Cavaliers working their way back to Cleveland Clinic Courts, Thompson has remained on the West Coast. He’s eager to get back on the hardwood, but like his teammate Larry Nance Jr. said the other day, he’s not eager to be a guinea pig.
”I'm going to piggyback on what my big-man brother said, my light-skinned brother,” quipped Thompson. “I'm not going to be the first one out and about roaming the streets when they (open up). I’m going to take my time doing my takeout and going out with my mask and my gloves. For me to be very social again, it’ll take a while.”
Just before the lockdown halted the 2019-20 season, Thompson was having a career-year in scoring, assists, blocks -- and three-point shooting.
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images
Like Nance, Thompson was flourishing just before the COVID-19 crisis caused the season’s suspension.
Averaging a double-double for the second straight season, the rugged 29-year-old notched double-figures in the first five games of J.B. Bickerstaff’s tenure after going into the All-Star Break off a 27-point, 11-rebound outburst off the bench in a win over Atlanta.
In Cleveland’s dramatic home win over Denver on March 7, the longest-tenured Cav was a load on both ends – finishing with nine points, 13 boards, five assists and a pair of blocks while holding All-Star Nikola Jokic to eight points and eight rebounds on 4-of-11 shooting.
”We were actually trending in the right direction and beating a lot of teams that were fighting for playoff position,” said Thompson. “The one I remember was the Spurs at home, that overtime game, at that point they were in the 9th seed, so they needed a win, and for us to get that W – we were trying to do that for the last 20 games.
”Obviously when the news broke out about it we're like ‘%#&@’ – we were actually sad about (not) messing up teams’ records.”
Like most of us, the former Longhorn is running out of things to watch on Netflix and confesses to having seen the same episode of “Chopped Junior” three times. But unlike most of us, Thompson has his own training facility.
”The way I’ve approached it is just like a regular offseason,” said Thompson. “Obviously, the last couple of years we haven't been the playoffs and our offseason has been longer, so that's kind of my approach. I don't really do much anyways, so I just been working out chilling with the family.
”You know it's been a blessing in disguise, because you know my kids live on the West Coast, so for me to spend that time with them is the most important thing during this time – because long distance is sometimes hard. So I just look at the positives.”
Even as the eight-year vet has become more verbose over the years, he’s always let his game do most of the talking.
"Obviously when the news broke out about it, we're like ‘%#&@’ – we were actually sad about (not) messing up teams’ records."
When the 2019-20 season came to a halt just before his 29th birthday, Thompson was having a career year.
His team-best 25 double-doubles placed him among the NBA’s top 20 and his 10.1rpg placed him in the league’s top 10. He was averaging a career-bests in scoring (12.0ppg), assists (2.1apg) and blocks (.88bpg). Only one player in the NBA was better than Tristan on the offensive glass – with Andre Drummond edging his teammate, 4.4 to 4.0rpg.
He grabbed a career-high 22 boards (to go with 13 points) against the Knicks on January 20 and posted a monster game against his former teammate in road win over Detroit – going off for 35 points on 15-for-20 shooting, adding a team-high 14 boards, three blocks and a steal.
In the aforementioned 27-point effort against Atlanta, Thompson – just the third Cavalier in team history with 400 blocks and 5,000 boards – drilled all three three-pointers he attempted. This year, he’s canned nine three-pointers – after attempting nine through the first seven years of his career.
He knows he has some decisions to make no matter how the remainder of the summer shakes out. But right now, Thompson has keep himself centered on the task at hand.
”I don’t think anyone is thinking about free agency here,” said Thompson. “Everyone is thinking about if we’re going to get some games going on. So in terms of the free agency stuff I just let Rich Paul handle that. For me, just keep the main focus, the main focus and (I’m) staying ready to play some basketball whenever that may be.”
Thompson’s tenure has reached historical levels. He’s one of three Cavaliers still remaining from the Championship squad of 2016.
Historically, he’s eclipsed Jim Chones’ iron man streak – playing in 447 straight – and is nipping at Austin Carr’s heels in terms of games played, having suited up for 619 as a Cavalier.
In an age of uncertainty, Thompson has Cleveland’s constant in an ever-changing universe.
”Never thought in a million years I'd have the success that I've had,” said Thompson. “For me, it's just taking one day at a time and enjoying every bit of it – meeting so many great people, being part of a franchise in a city that's been through some tough times. To break the 52-year drought, that was the most important thing in my time here. I wouldn't change it for the world.”L