NBA Rumors: Blazers Could Acquire Lonzo Ball For Derrick Jones Jr. & 2023 First-Rounder, Per ‘Bleacher Report’
Following rumors suggesting that the New Orleans Pelicans might be shopping Lonzo Ball around ahead of the March 25 trade deadline, a new report recommended a number of trade ideas for the fourth-year point guard, including one that would send him to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Derrick Jones Jr. and a first-round pick in the 2023 draft.
On Wednesday, Bleacher Report wrote that the Trail Blazers are currently a team with a “glaring backcourt need,” given how starting two-guard C.J. McCollum recently suffered a fractured foot and is not expected to be back in action anytime soon. According to the outlet, Ball could be a potentially good fit in Portland despite his well-documented issues with his shooting.
While Damian Lillard is the club’s longtime franchise playmaker, he has previously had backcourt partners — such as the recently retired Evan Turner — with a similar combination of size and passing skills and comparably poor shooting. However, the publication stressed that Ball’s passing and court vision both exceed that of Turner’s, while his defense could also prove to be beneficial if the hypothetical deal becomes a reality.
“In lineups with Lillard, the 6’6? Ball could be tasked with defending the opposition’s more dangerous guard, sparing the superstar a bit of energy on that end. The ability to create some offense and give Lillard off-ball scoring opportunities would help too.”
In addition, Bleacher Report speculated that Ball could see some action at small forward once McCollum returns from his injury, though he might have to play a reserve role as the first guard off the bench.
As shown on his Basketball-Reference page, Ball is currently averaging 12 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 1.3 steals in 12 games for New Orleans this season. His passing numbers, however, have significantly declined compared to previous seasons, and he has only converted on 38.9 percent of his field-goal attempts and 29.1 percent of his shots from beyond the arc. The Pelicans also remain among the worst teams in the Western Conference, with their 5-10 record placing them 14th out of 15 teams.
Talking about how the Pelicans could benefit from the proposed transaction, the site wrote that Jones, while being the same age as the 23-year-old Ball, will likely be more affordable than the former No. 2 overall pick if he gets a big offer in free agency during the 2021 offseason. It was also pointed out that Jones excels as a versatile defender and an athletic finisher on the fastbreak. As for the 2023 first-rounder, the outlet suggested that the pick could serve as compensation for how Ball’s departure might result in a lack of playmaking.