The Los Angeles Clippers were involved in trade discussions for New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball last month per Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, but nothing materialized. Now, according to the latest report courtesy of Brian Windhorst and Andrew Lopez of ESPN, Ball may be a bit more attainable than many initially thought.
According to Windhorst and Lopez: “Ball was involved in trade discussions with several teams before last month’s trade deadline, with the LA Clippers, Chicago Bulls, Denver Nuggets and Atlanta Hawks among the teams showing interest, sources said. Some executives came away from those talks with the belief that Ball might be available in a sign-and-trade in the offseason as a restricted free agent.”
Windhorst also revealed on The Hoop Collective podcast that due to the emergence of power forward Zion Williamson, New Orleans may be forced to center the building of its team around Williamson — which may not leave much money left to pay Ball the rumored $20 million he will likely be asking for once he finishes playing out the last year of his rookie deal.
Pelicans Will Be Able to Match Any Offers Ball Receives
Ball is a restricted free agent, so if the Clips want to nab him in a tag-and-trade scenario, the Pelicans would have the opportunity to match whatever salary L.A. may offer. With the emergence of Williamson and forward Brandon Ingram, who is second on the team in scoring with 24.3 points a game, New Orleans has a growing crop of young talent they will have to pay sooner or later, and Ball may be the odd man out.
“The Pelicans are one of only two franchises — the Charlotte Hornets are the other — that have never paid the luxury tax,” Windhorst and Lopez wrote. “With Ingram’s salary, an extension starting for Steven Adams and planning for Williamson’s next contract down the line, the Pelicans’ history suggests they will be judicious with their spending in both the short and medium term.”
Hmmm…if the Pelicans are judicious with their spending this summer, look for Ball to be an option for the Clippers.
Ball is Having a Career Year
Ball is having the best statistical year of his four-year career so far. He leads the Pelicans in assists (5.6 per game) and steals (1.4 a game), and he’s third on the team behind Williamson and Ingram with 14.2 points per game, a career high.
For his part, the Pelicans point guard heard the trade talk swirling around him last month, but he’s focused on finishing this season on a strong note. “It was definitely in my mind. I was prepared for anything. I know a lot of people were calling,” Ball told ESPN when asked if he thought he was going to be traded. “I think about the summer when the summer comes,” he added.
Stay tuned, Clipper Nation. It’s going to be an eventful couple of months!