Lonzo Ball is playing some of the best basketball of his career prior to entering restricted free agency this offseason, but the New Orleans Pelicans may look to trade him prior to Thursday's deadline so they don't have to pay him the sizable contract he is reportedly seeking.
According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, "It's not that the team doesn't like the player, but it may not like him at the price that is likely forthcoming in free agency. To that end, one source who has discussed the Lonzo dynamics with New Orleans said the 23-year-old guard is hoping to make approximately $20 million annually on his next deal."
While Ball struggled with his outside shot early in his career on the Los Angeles Lakers, he is hitting 38.5 percent of his triples this season with the Pelicans after connecting on 37.5 percent during the 2019-20 campaign.
He is averaging 14.2 points, 5.6 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.3 steals this season and seems to be part of a young core in New Orleans alongside Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.
Ball also seemed anxious to build a winner with those teammates earlier this month.
"I love playing with those guys, and I'm also really cool with them off the floor, as well," he told reporters when talking about playing with Williamson and Ingram. "We're all young. I think we can do some big things, especially in the future coming up."
Whether the Pelicans deem it worth keeping that core together remains to be seen, but one argument for trading the point guard prior to Thursday's deadline is they may be selling high given how well he has played this season.
Such a move would at least let them get something in return before he hits restricted free agency, although they would have the right to match any potential offer in such a situation.