Lonzo Ball Says He'd 'Love' to Return to Pelicans in 2021 NBA Free Agency

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVMay 17, 2021

MEMPHIS, TN - MAY 10: Lonzo Ball #2 of the New Orleans Pelicans handles the ball against the Memphis Grizzlies on May 10, 2021 at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. 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 David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

Pending free agent Lonzo Ball told reporters Monday that he'd be open to returning to the New Orleans Pelicans next season.

"Obviously, I would love to be back," he said. "You know, I've built a good bond here with the coaches and the teammates that are here."

New Orleans Pelicans @PelicansNBA

"Obviously, I would love to be back," - Zo pic.twitter.com/J5Bx6PLoo8

Ball, 23, will be a restricted free agent this summer, meaning the Pelicans could simply choose to match any offer sheet he signs and keep him on the team. The bigger question for New Orleans will be whether it thinks he fits into the organization's long-term plans alongside Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram. 

Or whether the team would be willing to pay the high price to keep him.

New Orleans Pelicans @PelicansNBA

Griffin on Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart: pic.twitter.com/gkayUiNQvm

The young point guard is coming off an excellent 2020-21 season, setting career highs in scoring (14.6 points per game), field-goal percentage (41.4) and three-point shooting (37.8 percent) while adding 4.8 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.5 steals per game. 

Always a strong defender and a threat in transition, Ball took solid strides as a half-court scorer this season. 

John Schuhmann @johnschuhmann

Players (minimum 500 min.) who've accounted for the highest % of team's 3PM while they've been on the floor...<br><br>1. Stephen Curry - 47.8% (duh)<br>2. Bertans - 47.8% (sure)<br>3. Hield - 44.1% (OK)<br>4. Korkmaz - 43.9% (interesting)<br>5. Lonzo Ball - 41.9% (what)https://t.co/Lm5QHCwzgV

While his name made the rounds ahead of the NBA trade deadline on March 25, he stayed put. But SNY's Ian Begley reported in March that the New York Knicks would have "renewed interest" in landing Ball this offseason.

And Marc Berman of the New York Post reported that same month that the Knicks "would be heavily on Ball’s radar as a restricted free agent."

So the Knicks are a team to keep an eye on in the Ball sweepstakes. But if he remains in New Orleans, it sounds like a fate he'd happily accept.