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Analyzing Lonzo Ball's decision to stay with New Orleans Pelicans and his probable departure in free agency next summer

Lonzo Ball to stay at New Orleans Pelicans this season
Lonzo Ball to stay at New Orleans Pelicans this season
Arhaan Raje
ANALYST
Modified 27 Mar 2021
Feature

Lonzo Ball not getting dealt on the NBA trade deadline 2021 was one of the biggest highlights of this year's trade market. Multiple teams were hoping to land Ball, who is seeking around $20 million per year next season onwards when he becomes a restricted free agent.

As per Will Guillory of The Athletic, Lonzo Ball apparently told the New Orleans Pelicans' executive vice president of basketball operations, David Griffin, that he wanted to continue with the franchise.

It remains to be seen whether the Pelicans will offer Ball the hefty contract he is looking for, let him go for free or make a sign-and-trade deal to ship him away in the summer.

Lonzo Ball would be eligible to sign a five-year deal with the New Orleans Pelicans, while any other team that would be interested in him would be able to offer up to four years for his services.

Business aside, Ball will remain a hot property next summer, but it will majorly be his call on what he decides to do with his future.

Possible scenarios surrounding Lonzo Ball and his future

#1 What's ideal for Lonzo Ball moving forward?

Zion Williamson #1 and Lonzo Ball #2 of the New Orleans Pelicans have formed a terrific partnership playing together.
Zion Williamson #1 and Lonzo Ball #2 of the New Orleans Pelicans have formed a terrific partnership playing together.

Lonzo Ball, 23, has played some of the best basketball of his life this season for the New Orleans Pelicans. He has formed a formidable partnership with Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.

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The three players have a great understanding and have led the Pelicans to become the seventh-best offensive team in the 2020-21 campaign with a 116.1 rating.

Ball, along with Zion and Ingram, could form a solid core for the Pelican for years to come as the three stars are still young in their careers and are only going to improve from here on.

Going to a new team at this stage might unsettle him a little bit and may even take long for him to adjust to new surroundings and style of play. If he does continue to play for the Pelicans for years to come, he could be a key element to them forming a certain process to succeed in the foreseeable future.

Thus, continuing with the Pelicans seems like the ideal option for Ball moving forward.

#2 If Lonzo Ball does move to another team, how would he fit into the new surroundings?

A player of Lonzo Ball's age, with his current efficiency as a player, would ideally have to take a long road and play according to the way a team would want him to. As a result, this could hamper his individual growth and will likely restrict him from exploring his optimum potential.

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Thus, he might take longer than expected to adapt to his new team.

Lonzo Ball is just in his fourth season, and many believe he is yet to discover his best self as an NBA player. In all his previous seasons, he was pretty much in the early stages as a 'work in progress' player, but this season he is edging toward being a finished product at a rapid pace.

The teams pursuing him as per the trade rumors were the Chicago Bulls, the LA Clippers, and the New York Knicks, who already have a designated superstar or two in their ranks, which might limit Lonzo Ball's freedom on the court.

At the New Orleans Pelicans, Lonzo might not be the face of the franchise, but he still has that freedom to play to his strengths and establish himself as a valuable member much quicker than he would at other teams.

#3 Exploring how the Pelicans could get affected in Lonzo Ball's absence and his impact on the team he plays for next

Lonzo Ball has been a treat to watch recently and is now looking like a well-rounded player who can play offense and defense with great efficiency.

The former Lakers guard is having a career-high season in points scored (14.2), field goals percentage (41.2), and three-points made per game (3). He is also averaging 1.3 steals per game.

That said, Lonzo leaving could hurt the New Orleans Pelicans massively, as he has been a key component to the way they play on both ends this season. He is an efficient playmaker who can push the ball up from the backcourt with ease and also provide better floor spacing for the likes of Ingram and Zion.

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There could be an argument that the Pelicans did win their last two games without Lonzo, but it's important to take note that it was a short run of games to conclude, and it might affect them in the long run.

As for the scenario in which Lonzo does happen to move to a new team, they would be investing in a point guard who has a great work ethic and will be giving his 100% for the team.

On top of that, they will also be getting a player who can shoot the ball well from long range and break defenses with his lethal passing range.

Lonzo is not just a one-dimensional guard, he will provide something or the other at all times or everything at once. Either way, it's this quality that makes him such a wanted man around the league.

Also read: 3 Biggest surprises from NBA Trade Deadline Day 2021

Published 27 Mar 2021, 01:18 IST
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