Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball is available in trade talks. New Orleans has fielded calls about Ball and JJ Redick in recent weeks.
After a solid start, the Pelicans are sliding. The Ball and Eric Bledsoe backcourt is not working. Spacing has been poor, and the franchise’s failure to agree a contract extension with Ball makes a trade relatively likely. If Lonzo is available, there will be no shortage of suitors. A former second overall pick, Ball’s upside is apparent. He’s already one of the better passers in the NBA and an elite defensive player.
With such spotlight on his career, Ball has been a player who divides opinion. The fit has been blamed in Los Angeles and New Orleans. Ultimately, though, since the Anthony Davis trade, Ball has had a pretty solid set up. He has the perfect lob threat in Zion Williamson. Brandon Ingram takes pressure off him to score off the dribble. While Bledsoe is a far from perfect backcourt partner, if the Pelicans decide to ship Lonzo out, it will be the second franchise who have lost faith in his development.
The vision and instincts can be talked up as much as we like. The numbers are still damning. Ball has never shot better than 40.6% from the field. He’s never got to the line more than 1.4 times per game (in his rookie year). Once he gets to the stripe, he’s hardly efficient (his 58.3% this season is a career-high). The 37.5% three-point shooting from last season is looking more like a fluke – Lonzo is below 30% from deep this season.
Some will still buy into the Jason Kidd upside. Many will see Lonzo as more of a Ricky Rubio-level player. Either way, there will be plenty of front offices considering a trade for Lonzo. We’ve taken a quick look at a few potential landing spots.
Landing spots for Lonzo Ball
Striking a trade for Lonzo Ball is an investment. It’s done with a belief he can become a consistent outside shooter, and that a reasonable contract extension can be reached.
Point guard needy teams with plenty of shooting make the most sense. The Chicago Bulls fall into that category. Coby White looks unlikely to be the franchise’s lead guard long-term. While Zach LaVine has improved as a playmaker, he will always be a score-first star.
The Bulls have salaries to make a deal work. Tomas Satoransky or Thaddeus Young could be sent to the Pels along with a future Chicago first. New Orleans is unlikely to get one of Chicago’s young core in a trade, though they’d probably ask for Patrick Williams or White.
With New Orleans reportedly having discussed a Kelly Oubre trade, it’s easy to join the dots and suggest the Warriors want Ball. Golden State have the assets to make such a trade. More ball handling is usually good, but Lonzo is another player to take it out of Steph Curry’s hands. How does Ball work in a line-up with Draymond Green and James Wiseman?
As with quite literally everything that happens in the NBA, the Knicks have been mooted as a destination. New York needs a point guard. New York also desperately needs shooting. Ball would be an ill-fitting piece, who could hamper the development of Obi Toppin and RJ Barrett.
If the Timberwolves were not wedded to D’Angelo Russell, they could perhaps talk themselves into a trade for Ball and Redick. Ball would provide much-needed defense.
There’s a solid market for Lonzo. Whether a trade comes to fruition will depend on what the Pelicans want. Having failed to agree an extension, it’s possible Ball is gettable as a restricted free agent – New Orleans will be reluctant to match a high offer. With so much cap space around, would-be suitors might just wait until the offseason.
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