Lonzo Ball Has an Open Mind About His Next Team in Free Agency, Agent Rich Paul Says

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJuly 14, 2021

CHARLOTTE, NC - MAY 9: Lonzo Ball #2 of the New Orleans Pelicans looks on during the game against the Charlotte Hornets on May 9, 2021 at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. 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 Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)
Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

New Orleans Pelicans star Lonzo Ball's agent was noncommittal about the guard's plans for restricted free agency this offseason.

Rich Paul told Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes that Ball and his representatives are "open-minded" about the future.

"In free agency, we all understand what that is in this landscape of business," Paul said. "He's a really good young player with the ability to become a great player. And so I think there's a lot of interests there. We're, open-minded. The phone lines will definitely be open come free agency. At the end of the day, we'll look to make the best deal."

Hayes pressed Paul about whether a return to New Orleans is an option.

"We’re open-minded to the landscape of the league," Paul said.

His comments are mostly boilerplate stuff because you'd expect an agent to say his client is seeking the best deal possible. Paul's answer about the Pelicans might be somewhat telling, though.

The two sides failed to reach an agreement before the rookie extension deadline, which set Ball on a path to restricted free agency. That seemingly spoke to some reservations New Orleans had about his long-term value.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported Tuesday the team is "unlikely to match a significant offer sheet" for the former No. 2 overall pick. 

Charania listed the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Clippers as potentially interested suitors, and NBA insider Marc Stein linked him to a possible reunion with the Los Angeles Lakers.

The dilemma with Ball is that he's coming off a career year. He averaged 14.6 points and 5.7 assists while shooting 41.4 percent from the field and 37.8 percent from beyond the arc.

But that's not exceptional production, which can make it difficult to justify a massive extension if you're Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin. This year's free-agent market is particularly robust for teams looking to add a point guard, too. 

The allure of signing Ball is obvious because he's a young playmaker and plus defender who has improved his shooting range. Any consternation from the Pelicans' perspective is equally understandable because the downside is Ball failing to get markedly better, thus hamstringing New Orleans' ability to continue building around Zion Williamson.