Lonzo Ball is one of the hottest names on the trade market as we tick down to Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET deadline. Myriad factors are in play as it pertains to whether Ball gets dealt or remains in New Orleans, and perhaps chief among them is Ball’s status as a restricted free agent this summer.
If New Orleans keeps him, it knows it will have to match any offer he gets on the open market to avoid losing him for nothing, as does a team potentially giving up assets to trade for him before the deadline. How high are teams willing to go for Lonzo? How much does Lonzo want?
To the latter question, Sam Amick of The Athletic is reporting that Ball is “hoping to make approximately $20 million annually on his next deal.” It’s a realistic number. If Ball doesn’t get it, he’ll get something close. He’s turned into a pretty deadly shooter off the ball who can properly support higher-usage stars, and his versatile defense fits anywhere. He’s still only 23 years old. If he develops as an in-the-paint finisher, he could still have All-Star upside.
Potential suitors, of which there are reportedly numerous, are weighing all this as they consider bringing Ball aboard not just for the remainder of this season, but potentially extending the marriage another four years at a lofty price for an ancillary offensive option.
The Philadelphia 76ers are among the teams showing interest in Ball, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, perhaps as a backup plan if they can’t land Kyle Lowry. The Clippers, Nuggets and Knicks have all been linked to Ball as well. The Sixers would be an interesting fit. Ball would bring shooting in support of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons and represent yet another defender, but he’s not the pick-and-roll/half-court playmaker they need.
After all this talk, don’t rule out Ball ultimately remaining in New Orleans. In fact, that might be the likeliest outcome. The Pels like Ball, obviously. He fits in support of Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram and exists on the right timeline. If the Pelicans trade him, it will be largely a financial decision. We’ll see if another team is willing to go higher than the Pelicans can stomach.
Courtesy: CBS Sports