The Pelicans holding onto Lonzo Ball at the trade deadline was somewhat of a surprise given the point guard’s looming restricted free agency. However, Ball still may not have a long-term future in New Orleans.
Some around the league believe that the franchise will be open to sign-and-trade involving Ball, Andrew Lopez and Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com write. The Pelicans still have interest in having Ball complete New Orleans’ version of a big three (alongside Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram), though several factors will come into play, including what the organization can accomplish with the rest of the roster.
“Unless they can trade Bledsoe, they will probably be hard-pressed to re-sign both Lonzo and [Josh Hart],” a rival league executive said. “They don’t pay the [luxury] tax.”
Bledsoe is owed $18.1 million during the 2021-22 season, though his $19.4 million salary for the following season is non-guaranteed. Shedding the veteran’s salary would unlock a world where they could re-sign both Ball and Hart, though that’s expected to be a tough task.
The former No. 2 overall pick has comfortably transitioned into an off-the-ball guard, showing the ability to be a spot-up shooter and asset when he doesn’t have the rock in his hands. That, combined with an expected hot market for point guards this summer, mean Ball will land a rather lucrative deal.
The Knicks, Clippers, Bulls, Nugget, and Hawks were among the teams with interest in Ball at the trade deadline.