Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart Reportedly Receive Qualifying Offers from Pelicans

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistJuly 31, 2021

New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball (2) moves the ball up court in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors in New Orleans, Tuesday, May 4, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

The New Orleans Pelicans have taken the first step toward potentially keeping Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart. 

Per ESPN's Andrew Lopez, New Orleans extended qualifying offers to Ball and Hart on Saturday.

Ball's one-year qualifying tender is worth $14.4 million, though he seems likely to receive a long-term offer from at least one team. Meanwhile, Spotrac noted Hart's qualifying offer is worth $5.2 million.

As restricted free agents, the Pelicans will have the ability to match any offer sheet that Ball and Hart sign from other clubs. They can also continue negotiating with both to get a long-term deal done before the start of free agency. 

There's been speculation about the 23-year-old Ball's future dating back to the trade deadline in March when he was mentioned as a possible candidate to be dealt. New Orleans held onto him hoping to make a run at the playoffs, but things didn't come together for the team in Stan Van Gundy's first year as head coach. 

One possible reason the Pelicans considered moving Ball is what he might be seeking in a long-term contract. Sam Amick of The Athletic reported at the time the UCLA alum is "hoping to make approximately $20 million annually on his next deal."

New Orleans has already committed long term to Brandon Ingram. Zion Williamson will be eligible for a rookie extension after the 2022-23 season. 

The Pelicans roster didn't gel particularly well last season. Their defense ranked in the bottom 10 in points allowed and rating. 

There are plenty of things for Pelicans vice president David Griffin to examine with this roster moving forward. The individual pieces have the ability to be great, but something hasn't clicked to this point. 

Ball did have his most productive offensive season in 2020-21. He averaged a career-high 14.6 points on 37.8 percent three-point shooting with 5.7 assists and 4.8 rebounds in 55 starts. 

Hart, meanwhile, averaged 9.2 points per game last season, shooting 43.9 percent from the floor and 32.6 percent from three-point range in 47 appearances for New Orleans.

While both Ball and Hart will have the opportunity to explore the market, the Pelicans will have the final say if either player will return to New Orleans in 2021-22.


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