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#pounditWednesday, July 28, 2021

Lonzo Ball

Pelicans do not expect Lonzo Ball to return?

Lonzo Ball

The New Orleans Pelicans may be pre-packing Lonzo Ball’s bags for him.

Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported on Tuesday about New Orleans’ negotiations with Jacque Vaughn as their potential next head coach. Fischer notes that, during a dinner with Vaughn, Pelicans executive David Griffin pitched his vision for a starting backcourt of Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Kira Lewis as well as his ideas for how to fill out Vaughn’s entire coaching staff. These negotiations reportedly led to Vaughn removing his name from consideration for the New Orleans job. Fischer adds that Griffin has wielded significant influence in New Orleans in areas such as minutes and skill development, primarily with players he has drafted.

One player that Griffin notably did not draft is Ball, who was acquired in the 2019 trade for Anthony Davis. Ball will also be a restricted free agent this offseason and has essentially been a full-time starter for his entire career.

The Pelicans tabbed Phoenix Suns assistant Willie Green to be their next coach instead. But if Griffin indeed wants a starting backcourt of Alexander-Walker and Lewis, both of whom he drafted, the team could easily let Ball walk in free agency. One rival in particular may be hoping for exactly that.

Lakers will try to reunite with Lonzo Ball?

Lonzo Ball

The Big Baller Prince of Chino Hills could be making his way back home.

Veteran journalist Marc Stein reports this week that the Los Angeles Lakers covet one more difference-making playmaker. The reason is so that LeBron James and Anthony Davis can spend more time at the power forward and center positions, respectively. Stein adds to expect the Lakers to search for pathways to re-acquire Lonzo Ball for that very reason.

Ball, 23, will be a restricted free agent this offseason. He was drafted by the Lakers No. 2 overall in 2017 and spent the first two seasons of his career with them before being sent to New Orleans in the Davis blockbuster.

There is some urgency for the Lakers at the point guard spot with incumbent Dennis Schroder, a free agent as well, seemingly pricing himself out of their range. Ball also sparked reunion hysteria via a recent Twitter exchange with James. Thus, Laker fans who haven’t already recycled them might be wise to hold onto their Ball jerseys for now.

LeBron James, Lonzo Ball spark rumors with tweets to each other

LeBron James

Those who were fans of the “LeBronzo” era in Los Angeles got a bit of a treat this week.

New Orleans guard Lonzo Ball appeared recently on UNINTERRUPTED’s “Who’s Interviewing Who?” In the episode, Ball said that the best advice he has gotten in his career so far was from ex-Los Angeles Lakers teammate LeBron James, who told him to “keep the main thing the main thing.”

Ball tweeted out a link to the episode on Friday and tagged James. The four-time MVP then responded by saying that he was “always a text, a phone call, or FT [FaceTime] away.”

The exchange promptly sparked rumors from fans, who began wondering if it was a sign that Ball might be coming back to Los Angeles.

Ball was teammates with James on the Lakers during the 2018-19 season and has often said that The King was his favorite player growing up. But the partnership was short-lived as Ball was sent to New Orleans in 2019 as part of the Anthony Davis trade.

Still, a Ball return to LA is far from impossible. Current Lakers starting point guard Dennis Schroder is hitting unrestricted free agency this offseason and may not be back with the team. Fellow backcourt pieces Alex Caruso, Wesley Matthews, and Talen Horton-Tucker will all be free agents as well. Ball is himself a restricted free agent, so maybe Laker fans can dream a bit here.

Zion Williamson wants Lonzo Ball back with Pelicans

Zion Williamson

Zion Williamson definitely does not want to lose his alley-oop partner.

During his exit interview on Monday, the New Orleans Pelicans star told reporters that he would like Lonzo Ball to re-sign with the team.

“It’d be dope,” said Williamson of Ball potentially returning, per Andrew Lopez of ESPN. “Me, Brandon [Ingram] and Zo, the three of us have a great relationship. I really would want Zo to come back. He knows that.

“But you know, like I said, the reality of the situation is Zo is a grown man, so he’ll make the decision that’s best for him,” Williamson added. “The only thing I can say is, I hope he stays.”

Ball, 23, is coming off his rookie contract and will be a restricted free agent this offseason. That means that the Pelicans can match any offer sheet that Ball signs with another team.

For his part, Ball said in his own exit interview that he would “love” to be back in New Orleans but would need to have the discussion with his agent.

A big contract may be awaiting Ball following his best offensive season yet. He put up 14.6 points a game on 41/38/78 shooting splits, all career-highs. But there is uncertainty whether Ball will actually return to the Pelicans, so it may not be as simple as Williamson is hoping for here.

Could Pelicans sign-and-trade Lonzo Ball this summer?

Lonzo Ball

Lonzo Ball manage to survive the trade deadline, but the coming offseason could be a different story.

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Andrew Lopez reported Friday that the New Orleans Pelicans discussed a potential Ball trade with several teams at the deadline. Some executives from those teams came away with the impression that the 23-year-old guard could be made available as part of a sign-and-trade this summer.

Ball will be a restricted free agent in the offseason. He is positioning himself for a solid deal with 14.5 points per game this season on 42.4 percent from the field and 38.4 percent from deep, all career-highs. But injuries are still a constant concern for Ball, who has missed almost the entire month of April with issues in both his hips.

If Ball decides he does not want to return to New Orleans, a sign-and-trade would be a way of assuring that they at least get some assets for him. We know that the ex-No. 2 overall pick is eyeing some big-name teams as well.

Kyle Lowry, Lonzo Ball, LaMarcus Aldridge not traded before deadline

Kyle Lowry

Kyle Lowry, Lonzo Ball and LaMarcus Aldridge are all players who were mentioned heavily in trade rumors ahead of the deadline. But the deadline has passed, and none of the three players were dealt.

Lowry’s name was in trade rumors for the last few months. He even seemed to give a goodbye to TV cameras on Wednesday night, but the Raptors did not find a trade partner for him. He is scheduled to be a free agent after the season.

Lonzo Ball was also mentioned in trade rumors. The New Orleans Pelicans ended up keeping him, but they did deal away shooting guard JJ Redick. The Pelicans could still keep Ball for another season before he would be a restricted free agent.

Aldridge and the Spurs agreed two weeks ago to part ways. However, San Antonio did not trade Aldridge. Instead, the two sides may end up agreeing to a contract buyout that would make Aldridge eligible to sign with other teams.

Even though these three players were not traded, there were still plenty of big moves made. Rajon Rondo and Lou Williams were swapped in a deal. The Orlando Magic unloaded many of their top players. And Victor Oladipo was sent to Miami in a big move.

Photo: Chensiyuan/Wikimedia via CC-by-S.A. 4.0

Report: Knicks eyeing Lonzo Ball trade

Lonzo Ball

The New York Knicks are eyeing an intriguing addition ahead of Thursday’s NBA trade deadline.

According to Ian Begley of SNY, the Knicks are keeping tabs on New Orleans point guard Lonzo Ball, and are monitoring the price it would take to make a move for him. Ball reportedly has fans within the organization, though there is some debate over whether he could be considered the long-term answer at point guard if he were acquired.

The Knicks have plenty of point guards on the roster, with Elfrid Payton, Immanuel Quickley, and Derrick Rose capable of playing there. However, with the possible exception of Quickley, none of them are really long-term answers. Plus, with the Knicks surprisingly pushing for a playoff spot, they may want a bit more firepower.

If the Knicks want Ball, they’ll likely find themselves facing stiff competition. Clearly, they’re interested enough that it bears watching ahead of the deadline.

Report: Two teams pursuing Lonzo Ball trade

Lonzo Ball

Lonzo Ball’s name keeps coming up in trade rumors, even as there are questions about whether the New Orleans Pelicans point guard is even available.

According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, the Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks have both reached out to the Pelicans about a Ball trade. The Bulls have offered Tomas Satoransky and second-round picks, while talks with the Hawks are centered on Cam Reddish.

There remains skepticism that the Pelicans are willing to trade Ball right now. However, they are also aware of the reality that Ball is a restricted free agent at the end of the season. While they can gamble on some sort of sign-and-trade deal in the summer, there is also the risk of either losing him for nothing or being confronted with matching a hefty contract they would not be enthusiastic about.

Ball’s numbers have improved this year, with the guard shooting 42.5 percent from beyond the arc and averaging a career-best 14.2 points per game. There appears to be at least one other team eyeing him right now, and the 23-year-old will definitely be in high demand this summer no matter what.

Report: Clippers trying to trade for Lonzo Ball

Lonzo Ball

Lonzo Ball has been mentioned in trade talks leading up to next Thursday’s deadline, and it sounds like at least one Western Conference contender is making a push to acquire him.

The Los Angeles Clippers are exploring potential avenues to trade for Ball, Marc Stein of the New York Times reports. They don’t have much draft capital to offer, but Stein says they have been looking to get a third team involved to help overcome that obstacle.

The Clippers have been in need of a true playmaking point guard since the offseason, and they have been linked to Ball for weeks now. However, the Pelicans may not want to trade the 23-year-old with the way their young core has started to gel.

Ball is averaging 14.2 points, 5.6 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game. New Orleans is 17-24 but has shown signs of progress under Stan Van Gundy. Ball recently said he is excited about what the young Pelicans are building with him, Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.

For what it’s worth, LaVar Ball wants the Pelicans to trade his son. The elder Ball’s latest rant this week centered on how he believes Van Gundy is misusing Lonzo.

While Lonzo has said positive things about the Pelicans, he may already be eyeing another team for when he becomes a restricted free agent after the season.

Lakers drafted Lonzo Ball for worst reason possible

Lonzo Ball

There were plenty of questions about whether Lonzo Ball was the right fit for the Los Angeles Lakers when they drafted him second overall in 2017, but Magic Johnson was committed to the star point guard from the start. Apparently that had more to do with the story than the skill set.

In a lengthy feature he published this week about the rapid ascendence of LaMelo Ball, Bill Oram of The Athletic shared some interesting information about why the Lakers drafted Lonzo. Let’s just say it’s enough to make fans in L.A. want to rip their hair out.

Lonzo was the first ever pick that Johnson made as president of basketball operations for the Lakers. Sources told Oram that Johnson and Lakers executives focused on Ball because they wanted to make a “grand slam” pick. They believed it would work out because it seemed like a Hollywood script in the making.

“It was looked at from Magic and others’ perspective as being too good of a Hollywood story to pass up,” a source told Oram. “This has to work out because it’s a perfect story. Because it’s Hollywood.”

Another source agreed, adding that “the Hollywood story was the worst thing that could have happened to him looking back.”

That should tell you all you need to know about Magic’s tenure in the Lakers’ front office. There was an uneasy feeling surrounding the Ball pick from the start, especially with all the pressure Johnson heaped on him from Ball’s introductory press conference. Lakers owner Jeanie Buss also had some insane comparisons for Ball right out of the gate.

Ball certainly seems more comfortable in New Orleans, where he is averaging 14.2 points per game with the Pelicans.