NBA Rumors: Pelicans Could Sign Lonzo Ball To A Lucrative Contract If He Has 'Strong Season' Like Brandon Ingram

Lonzo Ball making plays for the Pelicans
Gettyimages | Steph Chambers
Basketball

After he failed to reach an agreement regarding a contract extension before the 2020-21 NBA season, rumors have started to swirl around Lonzo Ball and his future with the New Orleans Pelicans. Before the 2021 trade deadline, Brian Windhorst and Andrew Lopez of ESPN revealed the former No. 2 overall pick had received strong interest from teams that were in dire need of a backcourt boost, including the Los Angeles Clippers, Chicago Bulls, Denver Nuggets, and the Atlanta Hawks.

When the season is over, Ball is once again expected to be one of the most coveted players on the market, this time, as a free agent.

Pelicans Still Considering Re-Signing Lonzo Ball In 2021 Free Agency

Lonzo Ball shooting the ball
Gettyimages | Julio Aguilar

Though he chose to test the free agency market instead of inking a new deal last summer, the Pelicans still haven't given up in their hopes of keeping Ball long-term in New Orleans. As ESPN noted, the Pelicans are even open to the possibility of giving Ball a lucrative contract in the 2021 free agency if he has a "strong season" like Brandon Ingram.

"The Pelicans have expressed interest in keeping Ball. When extension talks broke down before the season, the front office pointed toward Ingram, who also didn't reach an extension with the Pelicans going into the final year of his rookie contract. He subsequently had a breakout season that led to a Most Improved Player Award and then a maximum contract. The idea was that if Ball likewise had a strong season, the organization would follow suit."

Re-Signing Lonzo Ball Makes A Lot Of Sense For Pelicans

It wouldn't really be a surprise if the Pelicans decide to throw away a huge amount of money to re-sign Ball in free agency. Ball is currently establishing an impressive performance in the 2020-21 NBA season. In the 41 games he played, he's averaging 14.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, 5.7 assists, and 1.4 steals while shooting 42.4 percent from the field and 38.4 percent from beyond the arc, per ESPN.

In line with his career-highs in points and three-point shooting percentage, Ball has also succeeded to make himself a much better fit alongside Ingram and Zion Williamson by learning how to excel in an off-ball capacity.

Pelicans Could Choose Between Lonzo Ball & Josh Hart

The Pelican only have $91 million on their books for the 2021-22 NBA season, giving them enough salary cap space to offer Ball a decent salary in the 2021 free agency. However, Ball isn't the only Pelican that will hit free agency this summer, but also Josh Hart. Like Ball, Hart has also shown good chemistry with Williamson this season.

ESPN's Windhorst and Lopez even labeled Hart as a "more cost-efficient option" for the Pelicans than Ball. The Pelicans would definitely love to keep both players on their roster but as one of the few teams that are allergic to the luxury tax, they may choose not to do it, especially if they fail to find a trade partner for Eric Bledsoe and his $18 million salary next year.

Potential Suitors Of Lonzo Ball In 2021 Free Agency

As a restricted free agent, the only thing that the Pelicans need to do to bring Ball back is to match the offers of other teams in the 2021 free agency. However, several teams that are looking to upgrade their starting point guard position are still expected to try stealing the former No. 2 overall pick from the Pelicans this summer.

As ESPN noted, some of the potential suitors of Ball in the upcoming free agency include the Clippers, Bulls, New York Knicks, and the Miami Heat.