The whispers linking the Los Angeles Lakers to a potential reunion with Lonzo Ball are getting louder. NBA insider Marc Stein reported the Lakers are likely to pass on the Ben Simmons sweepstakes but are interested in bringing back Ball.
“Yet it’s worth noting that inevitable rumbles of Lakers interest would not merely emanate from Simmons’ status as a Paul client like LeBron James and Anthony Davis,” Stein detailed. “Word is that the Lakers, on top of their well-chronicled need for more shooting, covet one more difference-making playmaker who would allow James and Davis to spend more time at power forward and center.
“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.”
Ball Is a Restricted Free Agent Meaning the Pelicans Can Match Any Offer
Ball is a restricted free agent giving the Pelicans final say over the point guard’s future as the team can match any offer in free agency. The Lakers could have a chance at bringing back Ball with rumblings that the Pelicans may not match the top offer he receives.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported the Pelicans are unlikely to match a “significant offer” while also mentioning the Lakers’ crosstown rival as another possible landing spot. The Lakers could be competing with the Clippers in their quest for a reunion with Ball.
“New Orleans is unlikely to match a significant offer sheet on Ball, sources said,” Charania explained. “Ball, 23, is among the top point guards on the free-agent market. The Bulls and Clippers are expected to be among the teams interested in him, according to sources. Ball averaged career-highs in points (14.6) and 3-point shooting (37.8) this past season.”
The Lakers Could Use Kuzma as Part of a Sign-and-Trade Package
For the Lakers to have a chance at Ball, the Pelicans would have to agree to a sign-and-trade since Los Angeles is over the salary cap. The Lakers’ interest in Ball likely depends on how Dennis Schroder’s free agency plays out. Los Angeles’ path to Ball could include Kyle Kuzma as the centerpiece of a potential deal as Hoops Hype’s Yossi Gozlan detailed.
“There actually is a way they could make it fit,” Gozlan said on the Hoops Hype podcast. “I don’t know if they have enough value to make it work trade-wise. I don’t know if you include Kuzma, their pick in this draft and maybe you sign-and-trade Schroder. I don’t know maybe that could get you to the value for a guy like him [Ball]. But the whole point is, I ran some projections, there are definitely some pathways where they could pay Lonzo. Let’s say, I think he’s going to be looking for around $20 million annually. There’s a way that you can fit that in, get hard-capped.”
Simmons Is an Unlikely Fit for the Lakers
Both Ball and Simmons are represented by Klutch Sports, which is a plus for the Lakers’ chances of acquiring either player. Stein noted that the Lakers do not have a trade package capable of landing Simmons, while adding the guard does not fit with the team’s biggest needs given his poor shooting.
“To be clear: I don’t see Lakerland as a good landing spot for Simmons even if they had the means to make it happen,” Stein explained. “Although Simmons and the Sixers both badly need a fresh start because of all the swirling angst from this season’s unhappy ending and years of frustration building up to it, asking Simmons try to rebuild his game and self-confidence in the league’s most withering spotlight seems particularly unwise.”