NBA Rumors: Latest Buzz on Lonzo Ball's Future, Jalen Brunson, More

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IApril 19, 2021

NBA Rumors: Latest Buzz on Lonzo Ball's Future, Jalen Brunson, More

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Typically at this point on the NBA calendar, the playoffs would be underway. But the delayed start due to the coronavirus pandemic means the postseason won't begin until May 22.

    However, the trade deadline has come and gone (March 25), so the NBA's 30 teams won't be making any huge changes to their rosters between now and the end of the regular season. The primary focus will be playing well enough to make it into the playoffs.

    But that doesn't mean there aren't rumors circulating about moves that could still occur, either minor ones now or bigger ones once the offseason arrives.

    Here's some of the latest buzz from around the NBA.

Could Ball Move in Sign-and-Trade This Offseason?

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    Prior to the trade deadline, there had been some rumors about the New Orleans Pelicans potentially trading Lonzo Ball. Instead, the 23-year-old point guard remained on the team and will be part of the postseason push.

    But will Ball stay in New Orleans after the 2020-21 season? He's set to become a restricted free agent this summer, so there's a possibility he could be on the move for the second time in his NBA career.

    According to ESPN's Brian Windhorst and Andrew Lopez, among the teams that had interest in Ball ahead of the trade deadline were the Los Angeles Clippers, Chicago Bulls, Denver Nuggets and Atlanta Hawks. And those teams could still have a chance to potentially acquire Ball down the line.

    "Some executives came away from those talks with the belief that Ball might be available in a sign-and-trade in the offseason as a restricted free agent," Windhorst and Lopez wrote.

    Ball spent two seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers before getting traded in July 2019 to the Pelicans. This year, he's averaging a career-high 14 points, 5.6 assists and 4.2 rebounds in 43 games.

Brunson Currently 'On the Knicks' Radar'

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Over his first two NBA seasons, Jalen Brunson had been a solid player for the Dallas Mavericks. This year, he's taken his game to another level, averaging career highs in points (12.8), rebounds (3.6), assists (3.4) and minutes (25.6) in 52 games, while also shooting a career-best 52.8 percent from the field.

    With Brunson playing so well, it makes sense that there could be teams with interest in trying to acquire the 24-year-old point guard. And while Brunson is signed through the end of the 2021-22 season, his contract for next year is non-guaranteed, so it's possible Dallas could make him a restricted free agent this offseason.

    Marc Berman of the New York Post recently reported that Brunson "is on the Knicks' radar" and they "have had their eye on" him. New York recently saw Brunson's talent up close, as he had 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists in the Mavericks' win over the Knicks on April 2, then tallied six points and an assist in a loss to New York on Friday.

    Brunson is the son of former Knicks guard Rick Brunson, who was an assistant for current New York head coach Tom Thibodeau during their time in Chicago and Minnesota. Berman also noted that Thibodeau "could fill the void" on his Knicks staff left by the departure of Mike Woodson (who went to the University of Indiana) with Rick Brunson.

Another 10-Day Contract on the Way for Payton

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    Although Gary Payton II's 10-day contract with the Golden State Warriors is now up, it appears the 28-year-old guard will be sticking with the team for at least a bit longer. The Athletic's Anthony Slater reported on Sunday that the Warriors are planning on signing Payton to a second 10-day contract.

    Payton is a five-year NBA veteran who entered the league as an undrafted free agent after playing at Oregon State. He spent time with the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers over his first two NBA seasons, then played for the Washington Wizards the last two seasons.

    Payton hadn't played in the NBA this season until signing his first 10-day contract with Golden State on April 8. In five games, he averaged 2.4 points and 1.4 rebounds per contest, but he also brought strong defensive play coming off the bench.

    With the Warriors looking to make a push into the postseason, perhaps Payton could end up playing for them the rest of the season if he continues to impress moving forward.