FILE PHOTO: Mar 4, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball (2) attempts a jump shot in the third quarter against the Miami Heat at the Smoothie King Center. /Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo
July 13, 2021
In sifting through the rumors surrounding Ben Simmons’ imminent departure from Philadelphia, reporter Marc Stein found one interesting nugget that emerged from the Los Angeles Lakers. No, not that Simmons would be heading to Hollywood, but rather that the Lakers are interested in reacquiring former top draft pick Lonzo Ball.
In Stein’s most recent report on his Substack, he outlined the Lakers’ desire to add a playmaker to the Anthony Davis-LeBron James duo, and that Ball’s name was floated as a possibility.
“Expect to eventually hear of them searching for potential pathways, however obstacle-strewn they would be, to reacquiring restricted free agent-to-be Lonzo Ball for that reason,” Stein said.
Given the Lakers’ current salary cap inflexibility, such a move might necessitate going through New Orleans directly — the very team the Lakers traded Ball to in the Anthony Davis deal in 2019. That’s because Ball is a restricted free agent this summer, and while the Pelicans may not be in a position to match a max contract, they would be able to match a deal that comes in lower.
Could that mean a sign-and-trade is in the offing?
The Lakers selected Ball second overall in the 2017 NBA draft. He started 95 of 99 games he played for them in his first two NBA seasons before being shipped away in the Davis trade.
Ball, for his part, informed the media in May he’d love to stay in New Orleans going forward.
“That’s a conversation between me and my agent moving forward. But obviously I would love to be back,” Ball said. “I built a bond here with the coaches and the teammates who are here. I definitely wouldn’t mind coming back at all.”
In March, father LaVar Ball said in a radio interview ahead of the NBA trade deadline that his son wanted out of New Orleans, but Lonzo has never indicated as much.
Ball played in 55 games (all starts) in 2020-21 and finished with averages of 14.6 points (a career high), 5.7 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals. In his four-year career with the Lakers and Pelicans, Ball has averaged 11.7 points, 6.4 assists and 5.8 rebounds.
-Field Level Media