The New Orleans Pelicans surprised some people when they held onto Lonzo Ball through the 2021 NBA trade deadline. After Ball and the Pelicans were unable to agree on an extension in December, it seemed like only a matter of time until Ball was traded.
There was plenty of interest in Ball when the NBA trade deadline rolled around. The New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls were mentioned in NBA trade rumors as both having shown plenty of interest in him, and with good reason. Ball is 23-years old with an improving jump shot to go with already elite playmaking and defensive capabilities.
New Orleans is always hesitant to approach the tax as a small market team, so shopping him made sense so that they could get some value for him instead of potentially losing him for nothing in free agency.
While many were surprised that Ball stayed put, it was even more surprising, after his father LaVar Ball said Lonzo didn’t want to be in New Orleans, that Lonzo said he was happy to be in New Orleans and excited about what could happen in the future.
“I’m just comfortable here,” Lonzo Ball said, via ESPN’s Andrew Lopez. “I also love playing with [Zion Williamson] and [Brandon Ingram]. We have a lot of young guys. I think we can be good in the time coming.”
While he was happy to remain with the team, he did admit that it was something that was on his mind and that he was prepared for whatever happened at the NBA trade deadline.
“It was definitely in my mind. I was prepared for anything. I know a lot of people were calling,” Ball told reporters Wednesday, his first time speaking since the deadline. “But ultimately, what happened was supposed to happen and I’m where I’m supposed to be at.”
While he remained with the team through the NBA trade deadline, he is one player to keep an eye on once the offseason rolls around. Ball is one of the better players available in free agency this year, and as a restricted free agent, the Pelicans can match any offer sheet that he signs. He will be a key name to watch in NBA rumors during the offseason in free agency.
While Lonzo Ball is saying all of the right things now, the appeal of a bigger market, such as the Knicks and Bulls after beginning his career with the Los Angeles Lakers, might be too much to turn down.