Lonzo Ball Talks Future with Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram Amid Trade Rumors

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 2, 2021

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson, left, guard Lonzo Ball, center, and forward Brandon Ingram react from the bench during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

New Orleans Pelicans point guard Lonzo Ball said Monday he hopes to play alongside teammates Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram for a long time.

"For sure. I love playing with those guys," Ball told reporters after a 129-124 victory over the Utah Jazz. "I'm also really cool with them off the floor as well. We're all young. I think we can do some good things especially in the future coming up."

Ball was the focus of early rumors ahead of the March 25 NBA trade deadline, but those have seemingly started to fade.

Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer reported Monday there's "little expectation" the 2017 second overall pick will be moved as the Pelicans' front office has been "impressed' with his play since his name popped up in the rumor mill.

Ball, who struggled with his shot over the season's first two months, was far more effective at the offensive end in February. He averaged 16.5 points and 3.7 threes while shooting 45.9 percent from beyond the arc in 15 appearances.

The 23-year-old UCLA product opened March with 23 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and two blocks in 39 minutes to help the Pelicans beat the Jazz, who own the NBA's best record at 27-8.

New Orleans is lagging a bit behind, sitting 11th in the loaded Western Conference at 15-19, but beating Utah showcased the team's upside.

Ball is an important piece of the puzzle now that he's playing a more efficient offensive game, and that's not lost on his teammates. Williamson explained after Thursday's loss to the Milwaukee Bucks:

"Me and Lonzo, our games complement each other's so well that there are times me and Lonzo are just playing basketball out there. Whether it's passing and chasing, me setting the screen, him coming to set the screen for me, we complement each other so well then at the same time when we're out there, we give each other confidence, telling each other to shoot and that we trust each other to make the right decision within the situation. I think we just complement each other well. We give each other confidence."

The Pelicans have more talent than their record would indicate, which is likely why Ball's name started to circulate in speculation for a while early in the campaign.

The focus has shifted to potentially moving either Eric Bledsoe or JJ Redick to upgrade the roster for a surge during the second half of the regular season, per Fischer.

In the short term, New Orleans has a pair of home games before the All-Star break: Wednesday against the Chicago Bulls (15-18) and Thursday against the Miami Heat (17-17).