Lonzo Ball Rumors: PG Prefers to Remain with Pelicans Amid Trade Deadline Buzz

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 22, 2021

New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball (2) plays against the Indiana Pacers during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Indianapolis, Friday, Feb. 5, 2021. The Pelicans defeated the Pacers 114-113. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball isn't looking to change teams ahead of Thursday's NBA trade deadline, according to the New York Post's Marc Berman.

Ball is among the players who have been regularly linked to possible deals before the deadline passes. Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer reported March 1 that "you'd be hard-pressed to find a team New Orleans hasn't phoned to gauge interest in Ball, JJ Redick and Eric Bledsoe."

However, Berman reported Ball wants to remain with New Orleans for the second half of the season as the Pelicans look to get into the playoffs.

The 23-year-old may not have much to worry about.

The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor reported on March 8 that discussions surrounding Ball "have fizzled for now." O'Connor followed up Sunday to write, "There's skepticism around the league that the Pelicans will move [Ball] ahead of the deadline, but that won't stop teams from trying."

The latter story outlined how the Pelicans are looking to get "at least one good first-round pick or a young player."

You can make strong arguments for both sides when it comes to Ball.

The 2017 first-round pick is setting career highs in scoring average (14.2 points), field-goal percentage (42.5) and three-point percentage (38.5), and his 5.6 assists per game are the highest on the team.

Most importantly, Ball has formed a solid partnership with Zion Williamson. According to NBA.com, Williamson's offensive rating improves from 110.8 to 117.7 when Ball is on the court.

Ball's contract status presents executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin with a problem, though.

Brandon Ingram is already in the first season of his five-year, $158.3 million max extension, and it seems safe to assume a max extension for Williamson is factored into the front office's future calculations. He's eligible for free agency in 2023.

Griffin doesn't want to get tied down to bad contracts that ultimately hinder how he builds out the rest of the roster around Ingram and Williamson. That's what could potentially happen if Ball returns on a big deal this offseason.

Just as letting Malcolm Brogdon leave became an inflection point for the Milwaukee Bucks, the same thing could happen for the Pelicans with Ball.