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Report: Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart's 4th-Year Contract Options Picked Up by Pelicans

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistOctober 25, 2019

METAIRIE, LA - SEPTEMBER 8: Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart of the New Orleans Pelicans smile and laugh at the Team Gleason Camp in Metairie, Louisiana at Ochsner Sports Performance Center on September 8, 2019. 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 2019 NBAE (Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images)
Layne Murdoch Jr./Getty Images

The New Orleans Pelicans reportedly picked up the fourth-year options in the contracts of Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart on Friday, according to Will Guillory of The Athletic.

Both Ball and Hart were acquired from the Los Angeles Lakers along with Brandon Ingram and draft picks in the deal that sent Anthony Davis to L.A. this past offseason.

Exercising the options was an expected move since it gives the Pelicans two full seasons to see what they have in Ball and Hart, which will aid them in determining if they should sign either player to a long-term extension.

Per Spotrac, the move will result in Ball earning just over $11 million next season, while Hart will make just under $3.5 million. Both Ball and Hart are eligible to become restricted free agents after the 2020-21 campaign.

Ball was originally taken No. 2 overall by the Lakers in the 2017 NBA draft. Ankle and knee injuries have limited him to 100 games during his young career, and his numbers have been disappointing. Ball has a career field-goal percentage of 38.0 percent and a free-throw percentage of 44.6 percent to go along with averages of 10.0 points, 6.4 assists, 6.2 rebounds and 1.6 steals.

In his debut game for the Pelicans against the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday, Ball finished with eight points on 2-of-7 shooting, as well as five assists and five rebounds over 25 minutes.

Hart went 30th overall in the 2017 NBA draft to the Utah Jazz, but he was immediately traded to the Lakers along with Thomas Bryant for Tony Bradley.

After showing great promise as a rookie with 7.9 points and 4.2 rebounds per game while shooting 46.9 percent from the field and 39.6 percent from deep, Hart regressed significantly last season.

The Villanova product averaged 7.8 points and 3.7 rebounds, and he shot just 40.7 percent from the floor and 33.6 percent from beyond the arc.

Hart made a strong first impression for the Pels on Wednesday, as he finished with 15 points on 4-of-9 shooting—including 3-of-5 on threes—to go along with 10 rebounds.

David Griffin and the Pelicans front office have built a deep and talented roster in New Orleans headlined by youngsters Ball, Hart, Ingram, Zion Williamson, Jaxson Hayes and Nickeil Alexander-Walker, in addition to veterans like Jrue Holiday, J.J. Redick and Derrick Favors.

The Pelicans aren't yet at full strength with Williamson nursing a knee injury after going No. 1 overall in the 2019 NBA draft, but if they can get healthy and their young talent progresses as hoped, the Pels have a chance to be contenders in the near future.

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