NBA Rumors: Mavericks Could Acquire Lonzo Ball For Maxi Kleber, ‘Bleacher Report’ Suggests
Since his name started coming up in trade rumors a few weeks ago, New Orleans Pelicans point guard Lonzo Ball has stepped up his game, overcoming a slow start and showing off an improved shooting stroke. But with the Pelicans seemingly intent on building the franchise around young forwards Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, a recent trade idea suggested that the Dallas Mavericks could improve their backcourt rotation by acquiring Ball from New Orleans for big man Maxi Kleber.
As explained on Friday by Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes, Ball “still doesn’t seem central” to the Pelicans’ broader plans to develop into a playoff-caliber team, despite the steady improvement he has shown as a shooter since entering the league as the second overall pick of the 2017 draft. The 23-year-old playmaker didn’t sign an extension with the organization during the offseason, thus lending credence to the belief that he might not be with the team much longer.
Considering how the Mavericks need a secondary source of playmaking behind superstar Luka Doncic, Hughes opined that Ball could address that weakness, much like other suggested targets like Devonte’ Graham of the Charlotte Hornets.
According to his Basketball-Reference page, Ball is averaging 13.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 1.3 steals for New Orleans and is shooting a career-best 42.4 percent from the field and 37.4 percent from three-point range. While he still has trouble getting to the free-throw line, the former UCLA star has also raised his accuracy to 73.9 percent from the stripe.
As for the Pelicans, the Bleacher Report writer noted that Kleber is a rare example of a three-and-D big man, as he combines well-above-average shooting ability from beyond the arc with a strong defensive game. In four NBA seasons, the German forward/center has averaged 1.6 blocks per 36 minutes and has converted on 36.4 percent of the 718 three-point shots he has attempted so far.
“The Pelicans need mobility and stretch up front. They committed a heap of money to Steven Adams, who offers neither of those qualities, and it has never made sense to clog Zion Williamson’s lane with conventional bigs. Kleber would operate as a poor man’s Myles Turner, the guy we’ve all worn out the trade machine trying to get to the Pelicans.”
In addition, Hughes pointed out that Kleber will be making an average of $9 million annually in the two seasons remaining on his deal, with his 2022-23 salary only partially guaranteed. This makes him a far more affordable investment than Ball would be once he signs his next contract.