Lonzo Ball Happy Pelicans Didn't Trade Him at Deadline: 'I'm Where I Want to Be'

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVMarch 31, 2021

DENVER, CO - MARCH 21: Lonzo Ball #2 of the New Orleans Pelicans looks on during the game against the Denver Nuggets on MARCH 21, 2021  at the Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)
Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

Lonzo Ball spent most of the first half of this season seeing his name bandied about in trade rumors before the New Orleans Pelicans ultimately chose to keep him past the deadline.

Ball said Wednesday he's happy right where he's at. 

"I'm happy to be here. ... In the end, I didn't get traded and I'm where I want to be," Ball told reporters. "What happened was supposed to happen and I'm where I'm supposed to be at."

Ball is having the best season of his NBA career, averaging 14.2 points, 5.6 assists and 4.2 rebounds, though he suffered a strained right hip earlier this month. His 38.5 percent rate from three-point range is a career-best and continues an upward trend since his struggles as a rookie.

A restricted free agent this offseason, Ball's free agency will be potentially the most intriguing among young players hitting the open market.

While it's clear Ball does most things well on the floor, there are some legitimate questions about his ceiling as a lead guard—thanks in large part due to his historic allergy to the free-throw line. Ball averages just 1.1 free throw attempts per game, one of the NBA's lowest rates among regular rotation players. Most other players on the list are spot-up shooters who rarely handle the ball, whereas Ball is viewed in some circles as someone who should handle full-time point guard duties.

Sam Amick of The Athletic reported Ball will be looking for a contract averaging $20 million annually, an eye-opening number for a player some around the league still aren't sold on. That said, all it takes is one team to fall in love with Ball's two-way potential and improvements as a shooter to pay the price.

We'll just have to see if New Orleans is that team.