Aldridge: Insiders Say Lonzo Ball 'Looked Like He'd Checked Out' During Restart

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 13, 2020

New Orleans Pelicans' Lonzo Ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

NBA insiders reportedly questioned the intensity of New Orleans Pelicans point guard Lonzo Ball during the team's seeding games at the Disney World complex in Orlando, Florida.

"People down in Orlando tell me Lonzo Ball looked like he'd checked out the whole time the Pels were there, and that they expect some significant roster adjustments in New Orleans before next season," David Aldridge of The Athletic reported Thursday.

The Pelicans were a trendy pick to earn a playoff berth in the Western Conference when the season restarted after a four-month hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, New Orleans has lost five of seven games in the bubble and has been eliminated from postseason contention. Ball's lackluster play is a major reason for those struggles.

The 22-year-old UCLA product has averaged 7.1 points, 6.6 assists and 5.0 rebounds while shooting 30.5 percent from the field in Orlando.

"I feel like I let the team down," Ball told reporters Monday. "I know I'm a big part of it. Usually, when I play well, we win. Obviously, I didn't play well this trip. We're going home early, and I have to live with that."

Along with Ball's struggles, the Pelicans were hurt by the limited playing time of Zion Williamson. He has averaged only 20.7 minutes in five appearances as the front office continues to focus on preventing any health setbacks that could impact his bright future.

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New Orleans has an intriguing core with Williamson, Ball, Brandon Ingram and Jrue Holiday, but Aldridge's report suggests the roster could receive another shake-up in the offseason.

Whether that means Ball, who New Orleans acquired in the blockbuster Anthony Davis trade last July, could be on the move again is unclear.

The second overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft did show signs of progress this year. He's averaged 11.8 points, 7.0 assists and 6.1 rebounds while connecting on 37.5 percent of his threes, a major improvement from his time with the Los Angeles Lakers.

That didn't carry over to Orlando, however, and it has led to a renewed round of criticism for the point guard.