NBL: LaMelo Ball, Jermaine Jackson Haven't Finalized Illawarra Hawks Purchase

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistApril 2, 2020

LaMelo Ball of the Illawarra Hawks squats during their game against the Sydney Kings in the Australian Basketball League in Sydney, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
Rick Rycroft/Associated Press

LaMelo Ball and his manager, Jermaine Jackson, are in talks to buy the Illawarra Hawks of the Australian NBL, but a deal does not appear to be done.

Jackson told ESPN he and Ball have purchased the club.

"We own the team," he said. "It's a done deal."

However, the Hawks released a statement denying a sale has been finalized:

"The league can confirm LaMelo Ball and his management had discussions about being involved with the club while he was playing in the NBL last season.

"At this point we are continuing to work with current licence holder Simon Stratford on a number of options for what we hope will be a fruitful outcome for Illawarra and the NBL.

"The NBL has final approval on any transfer of license and no application has been made to date. The NBL has no further comment at this stage."

Ball played 12 games for the Hawks before he suffered a season-ending foot injury, averaging 17.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game. He has now turned his attention toward the 2020 NBA draft

When explaining the decision, Jackson, who played five seasons in the NBA for the Detroit Pistons, Toronto Raptors, Atlanta Hawks, New York Knicks and Milwaukee Bucks, pointed to how much Ball enjoyed playing in Australia and how welcomed he felt in the country:

"Melo loves the Illawarra fans. He loves that community. They opened their arms to him. They made us feel like we are at home. When we started hearing about the issues they were going through, we talked about it and decided, 'Let's own the team.'

"He is going to be locked into his NBA career, but we are going to hire the right people to oversee everything. He wants to create the best basketball program possible for that community there."

Ball also made headlines in January when he donated a month of his NBL salary to the victims of Australia's bushfire crisis.

While the younger brother of New Orleans Pelicans point guard Lonzo Ball didn't get the opportunity to play in many games for the Hawks, he apparently showed enough to merit consideration for a top-five pick in the upcoming 2020 draft.

Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman projected the guard to go No. 3 overall to the Minnesota Timberwolves in his most recent mock draft: "Ball's signature strength early will be playmaking, but there is still plenty of scoring upside to unlock from his creativity, floater game, finishing package and confident three-point shot-making."