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#pounditFriday, October 15, 2021

Lonzo Ball

Clippers interested in trading for Lonzo Ball?

Lonzo Ball

An intriguing opportunity may be awaiting Lonzo Ball back in his hometown of Los Angeles.

Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson of reported on Wednesday that the LA Clippers are among the teams interested in trading for the New Orleans Pelicans guard. Robinson also lists the New York Knicks, Toronto Raptors, Dallas Mavericks, and Orlando Magic as others with interest in Ball.

The 23-year-old Ball still has not quite found his groove with the Pelicans. He is averaging just 11.9 points and 4.4 assists per game this season. Ball is also getting somewhat fewer touches in the backcourt with the addition of Eric Bledsoe and the emergence of Nickeil Alexander-Walker.

The Clippers, currently third in the West, are a team that still lacks a true playmaking point guard. Ball is a native of nearby Chino Hills and attended college at UCLA. Thus, the potential fit is there, especially with the recent uncertainty over Ball’s future in New Orleans.

Lonzo Ball will not sign rookie contract extension with Pelicans

Lonzo Ball

Lonzo Ball’s long-term future with the New Orleans Pelicans is in some doubt.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Ball and the Pelicans have ended talks about a long-term extension, meaning the guard will become a restricted free agent next summer. Ball’s agent, Rich Paul, stated that the two sides remain optimistic that something will eventually be worked out.

Monday is the deadline for eligible players to sign rookie contract extensions, so this is an indication that Ball and the Pelicans probably weren’t particularly close to an agreement as the deadline loomed. It’s clear that the Pelicans would like to keep Ball, though, and they would be able to match any offer the guard receives next summer even without a new contract extension.

Ball has won plaudits from his teammates and seems to have found a home in New Orleans. It’s pretty clear that there’s still an opening, and even a mutual interest, in getting something done. It just won’t happen until the summer now.

Photo: Erik Drost/Flickr via CC-BY 2.0

Lonzo Ball has become much improved shooter, says teammate JJ Redick

Lonzo Ball

Lonzo Ball is getting some rave reviews for his shooting ability by someone who would certainly know.

New Orleans Pelicans guard JJ Redick told reporters on Saturday that Ball, his fourth-year teammate, has turned himself into “a great shooter.”

“I literally tell him every f—ing day to shoot the ball,” said Redick, per Andrew Lopez of ESPN. “I hate when he passes up good shots.”

Redick, one of the best pure shooters in NBA history at a 41.6 percent career mark from deep, is entering his second season as teammates with Ball. The 23-year-old Ball has faced much criticism in his career thus far for his shaky shooting and unconventional form. He took a step forward last year though, attempting 6.3 triples per game and connecting on 37.5 percent of them, both career highs.

Ball was the subject of trade rumors earlier this offseason, but he could be quietly setting himself up for a breakout in the 2020-21 campaign.

Photo: Erik Drost/Flickr via CC-BY 2.0

Lonzo Ball was really tucked away at LaMelo Ball’s draft party

Lonzo Ball

Lonzo Ball was not at all trying to take away the spotlight at his brother’s draft party.

LaMelo Ball was taken No. 3 overall by the Charlotte Hornets during Wednesday’s NBA Draft. He and his family had people over for a draft party that was shown on TV. While LaMelo was surrounded on his couch by his parents, brother Lonzo was shown standing guard in the corner.

Lonzo already has a big name and was the No. 2 overall pick by the Lakers in the 2017 draft. He was traded to the Pelicans last year and developed nicely with him. Three years later, his brother became the No. 3 pick. That’s a pretty nice success for his family and proves father LaVar was not too crazy when he predicted big things for his sons.

The Balls become the first ever siblings to be drafted in the top three picks.

Photo: Erik Drost/Flickr via cc-by 2.0

Lonzo Ball appreciates the support from Damian Lillard

Lonzo Ball

Lonzo Ball still has plenty of believers around the NBA, including some of the game’s biggest stars.

Damian Lillard named the New Orleans Pelicans guard as one of his picks to take a big step forward next season when asked by a fan. This didn’t escape Ball’s notice, and he offered up thanks on social media.

There is some evidence that Ball was already starting to break out this season. A lot of that was undone, however, by a poor bubble performance that saw his dedication questioned. That alone means he has a lot to prove next season.

For what it’s worth, Ball clearly has no worries about his long-term prognosis. Perhaps he’ll be boosted by the vote of confidence from Lillard, too.

Pelicans looking to trade Lonzo Ball?

Lonzo Ball

Lonzo Ball’s stock continues to dip, and now the New Orleans Pelicans may be evaluating whether or not they still see him as part of their future plans.

In an appearance Friday on ESPN’s “Keyshawn, Jay and Zubin,” analyst Jay Williams reported on Ball’s outlook with the Pelicans. Williams said he was hearing around New Orleans that the team could use the 22-year-old as a trade asset this offseason.

Ball, who just completed his first season with the Pelicans, seems like a strong Zion Williamson complement to build around. But his development is still coming along slowly (save for a slight improvement in his jumper), and Ball’s poor bubble performance led to questions about his dedication.

In any case, Ball’s rookie contract runs through next season, after which he can become a restricted free agent. Players like Brandon Ingram and Jrue Holiday are also due for free agency soon. That means that the Pelicans could have some pretty tough decisions on their hands.

Lonzo Ball ‘checked out’ during Orlando restart?

The New Orleans Pelicans looked like they were unprepared for the resumption of the season in Orlando, and the result was five losses in seven games to eliminate them from postseason contention. While almost all of the talk surrounding the team has had to do with Zion Williamson and his minutes restriction, Lonzo Ball’s lackluster play probably deserves more attention.

If you take out the 16 points Ball scored in the Pelicans’ meaningless game against the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday, the point guard averaged just 5.6 points per game when New Orleans needed him most. Ball seemed to really hit his stride before the season was postponed, as he was averaging 20.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game in the month of March. So what happened?

David Aldridge spoke with some sources in Orlando about the Pelicans, and they told The Athletic reporter that Ball “looked like he’d checked out the whole time” the team was at Disney World. Those same sources said they expect some significant changes to the New Orleans roster heading into next season.

Ball recently shot back at critics of his bubble performance, but it’s fair to wonder why he seemingly disappeared. It’s possible he simply went into a shooting slump at the worst time, as he had put together a solid season prior to things being shut down.

Had it not been for Ball’s poor play and the drama with Williamson, the Pelicans probably would not be going home.

Lonzo Ball responds to spotlight of his mediocre bubble performance

Lonzo Ball seems to be indicating that he’s going to have a big season in 2020-21 after acknowledging his poor showing in the NBA bubble games.

The New Orleans Pelicans were pushed to the brink of elimination on Sunday after losing to the San Antonio Spurs, with Ball offering little help along the way. On Sunday, Ball contributed just five points on 2-of-10 shooting in the loss, with his ten assists not enough to lead the team to victory or make his stat line look impressive. It continues a bad bubble performance that has seen Ball average just 5.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, shooting 26 percent from the field and 19 percent from three-point range.

Bleacher Report’s Twitter account sent out those numbers after the loss. This prompted a response from Ball, who retweeted it with the message “make sure y’all post my s— next year too.”

To be clear, Ball has a point, and not just about next year. The point guard has quietly had a solid season for the Pelicans, with improved numbers from three-point range and a career high in points per game. He’s on the right track. He just happened to have a very bad stretch at the worst possible time.

Lonzo Ball raves about Zion Williamson’s physical condition entering Orlando

Zion Williamson

Lonzo Ball sounds very excited for the opportunity to run it back in Orlando with the other half of his dynamic duo.

In a video conference with reporters on Monday, the New Orleans Pelicans guard spoke highly of teammate Zion Williamson’s physical condition ahead of the NBA’s resumption of play later this month.

“He looks amazing,” said Ball. “He looks fully healthy. He looks even stronger than he was before, if that’s even possible. But I was happy to see him, happy to see he’s in shape, and looking forward to playing with him.”

Ball displayed a very unique chemistry with the high-flying Williamson in the 19 games that they played together this season before play was suspended. The Pelicans had a ridiculous plus-15.2 net rating whenever the two shared the floor, per ESPN.

New Orleans executive David Griffin also sounded similarly encouraged about Williamson recently, and all eyes will be on the Pelicans in Orlando as they look to overtake the Memphis Grizzlies for the No. 8 seed in the West.

LaMelo, Lonzo, LiAngelo Ball sign with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation

LaMelo Ball

The three Ball brothers have new representation.

LaMelo, Lonzo, and LiAngelo Ball will all sign with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports, according to LaMelo’s manager Jermaine Jackson.

“This was a family decision,” Jackson told ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. “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.

“We talked to several agents, but the family had good vibes with Roc Nation. 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.”

Roc Nation will handle marketing for the three Ball brothers, and Raymond Brothers will act as their primary agent. Among the first tasks will be sorting out a sneaker deal for LaMelo Ball, who is expected to be one of the top picks in the upcoming NBA Draft.

It sounds like the Ball brothers are moving into new territory with their brand. They have all been closely linked with father LaVar’s Big Baller Brand, but Lonzo strongly distanced himself from that last year. Roc Nation has growing clout in the sports world, and getting the Ball brothers on board should continue that growth.