Lonzo Ball Trade Rumors: Clippers 'Exploring' Routes to Deal for Pelicans Star

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2021

New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball (2) passes in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers in New Orleans, Friday, March 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)
Matthew Hinton/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Clippers are reportedly looking into the possibility of acquiring point guard Lonzo Ball from the New Orleans Pelicans.

According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, the Clippers are "exploring trade routes" for Ball ahead of the March 25 trade deadline because of their need for a playmaker.

The 23-year-old Ball is in the midst of his fourth NBA season overall and his second as a member of the Pelicans after getting traded from the Los Angeles Lakers as part of the Anthony Davis deal.

In terms of scoring, Ball is enjoying a career year with 14.2 points per game. He is also shooting 42.5 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from beyond the arc with 3.0 trifectas made per contest, all of which are career bests.

His 4.2 rebounds per game are a career low and his 5.6 assists per game are the second-lowest mark of his NBA career, but Ball seems to be rounding into form and becoming a more complete player.

Despite that, his future in New Orleans is in question, as he will become a restricted free agent at the conclusion of the 2020-21 season. If the Pels don't view him as a long-term answer, trading him now could be the best course of action.

The Pelicans have a solid veteran point guard in Eric Bledsoe, but perhaps the biggest argument in favor of trading Ball would be the opening up of more playing time for second-year man Nickeil Alexander-Walker.

While Alexander-Walker's averages of 8.6 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game are modest, he has big-time potential, as evidenced by the 37-point game he had in January.

As for the Clippers, it is clear that they could use a point guard capable of running the offense and being a distributor for Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

Reggie Jackson and Patrick Beverley are splitting time at point guard for the Clips, but they only average a combined 5.0 assists per game, which is well below Ball's career average of 6.4.

Although the Clippers have a quality roster capable of contending for a championship, they are only fourth in the Western Conference currently at 26-16 and have lost five of their past seven games.

It is tough to say if Ball is the missing piece that will tie everything together and allow the Clippers to get past the Lakers and Co. in the Western Conference playoffs, but he undoubtedly represents an upgrade over Jackson and Beverley.

With a lineup of Leonard, George, Serge Ibaka, Nicolas Batum and Ball, plus the likes of Lou Williams, Marcus Morris, Ivica Zubac and others coming off the bench, the Clippers would a tough matchup for any team come playoff time.