OKC Thunder: LiAngelo Ball signing with OKC Blue is bigger than you think

LiAngelo Ball smiles as the crowd sings "Happy Birthday" (Photo by Cassy Athena/Getty Images)
LiAngelo Ball smiles as the crowd sings "Happy Birthday" (Photo by Cassy Athena/Getty Images) /

LiAngelo Ball is expected to ink a deal with the OKC Blue as per ESPN. If it happens, does it impact the OKC Thunder at all?

On Tuesday ahead of a huge regular-season matchup with the L.A. Clippers, the OKC Thunder made some waves throughout the NBA community when ESPN announced the team would ink LiAngelo Ball to a G-League contract.

LiAngelo Ball is the middle Ball brother, seeing his older brother Lonzo playing for the Pelicans after being draft second overall, and younger brother LaMelo projected to go within the top five picks of the 2020 NBA Draft.

LiAngelo Ball’s basketball career was derailed after a short stint in college. At UCLA, the youngster was caught up in an international shoplifting scandal and was never able to recover. After a short stay in Lithuania, Ball returned to the states with no real basketball direction. As his youngest brother jetted off to Australia to forego college and prepare for the NBA Draft, LiAngelo Ball was a bit lost. Even his own father was doubting his basketball future.

In late December, LiAngelo Ball joined the OKC Blue as a practice player and began getting back into basketball shape. Now, with 18 games left in the G-League regular season, Ball has earned his shot.

It was announced today by Shams Charania that LiAngelo Ball is expected to sign a “G-League contract” soon. 

That deal has not been announced with the OKC Blue yet. But if it does progress to that stage it means more than you think. At first glance, you could just dismiss it. That is understandable, it is a G-League contract first of all, but it is also a player that is widely viewed as a gimmick. As a publicity stunt. However, think about who you are dealing with here.

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The OKC Blue is a direct affiliate with the OKC Thunder, meaning the two organizations share the same value. If you are working out with the Blue and playing for the Blue, the goal is to eventually grow into a player that is useful across the street. The goal for a Blue player is to make that walk over from the Cox Convention Center to Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Now the odds are slim, but never tell me the odds. No matter who you sign in the G-League though, you are not selling tickets. Especially not in a City that the NBA team across the street is in the midst of a heated NBA Playoff race.

So why would this signing be bigger than you think? For just that reason. There is no need for Sam Presti, or the OKC Blue to sign LiAngelo Ball unless they believe in his development. Now it could fail, and he might not be able to ever crack an NBA roster, his Dad could be right. However, this is not just a throw away signing for headlines.

Assuming Sam Presti signs off on this move from OKC Blue GM Jesse Gould, it shows the organization believe LiAngelo Ball at least has some upside.

This move also helps in the Summer, the Summer League roster featuring LiAngelo Ball, and hopefully two new NBA Draft picks, will be fun to watch!

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The odds say this move is just a blip on the radar. That this will never actually mean anything at the NBA level. There is also no reason to do this move unless you believe you can get something out of LiAngelo Ball.