Could soon-to-be free agent Lonzo Ball wind up back in L.A?
The Pelicans point guard — who was selected second overall by the Lakers in the 2017 NBA Draft — has garnered interested from the Clippers, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. New Orleans is reportedly “unlikely to match a significant offer” for Ball when he hits the open market this August.
Ball, who turns 24 in October, averaged career-highs in points (14.6) and 3-point shooting (37.8 percent) this past season in an overall lackluster 31-41 run by the Pelicans. Ultimately, New Orleans failed to make the Western Conference play-in tournament.
The news comes a few months after the Clippers were reportedly interested in acquiring Ball ahead of the trade deadline in March. Despite the team’s apparent efforts to orchestrate a potential multi-team trade to snag the point guard, nothing ever came of the trade buzz.
Around the trade deadline, Ball’s father, LaVar Ball expressed he wished his son would be traded away from the Pelicans.
The Bulls are also among the teams interested in Ball in this summer’s free agency, according to The Athletic. The Knicks have also been linked to the point guard.
While Ball would mesh well with the Clippers’ star duo in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, things could get complicated on the financial front.
Salary cap restrictions could halt a potential quest for Ball — especially if the Clippers re-sign Leonard, which would put them into the luxury tax. Not to mention, L.A. will still have free agents Reggie Jackson and Nicolas Batum to consider.
Another route to land Ball would be a sign-and-trade, though it would depend on who the Clippers have to offer up to New Orleans.
Despite the rumor mill stacking up, the Pelicans could still re-sign Ball and match an offer sheet from another team so that he could help lead their young core under a new head coach following Stan Van Gundy’s recent firing. Ball has also grown close with All-Star forward Brandon Ingram.
New Orleans is looking for a quick solution for a turnaround after a disappointing season led to offseason drama. One report claimed the team’s franchise face Zion William’s family isn’t happy with how the Pelicans have handled the All-Star.
The Pelicans are reportedly nearing a deal to hire Suns assistant Willie Green as head coach. He’s been in Phoenix for five seasons.
Green, a 12-year NBA veteran, is currently coaching on Monty Williams’ staff in the NBA Finals. The 39-year-old was previously an assistant under Warriors coach Steve Kerr, and was part of Golden State’s 2017 and 2018 championships.
The Pelicans also have the No. 10 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, as well as a collection of future picks from the trades that sent Anthony Davis to the Lakers and Jrue Holiday to the Bucks.
NBA free agency begins on Aug. 2 at 6 p.m.