New Orleans Pelicans point guard Lonzo Ball's name has been popping up in rumors leading up to the NBA trade deadline on March 25, as both the Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks are reportedly interested in trading for the fourth-year guard. The Pelicans haven't made it clear what they plan to do with Ball, who is set for restricted free agency after the season, but there is one person who would like to see Lonzo in a different uniform -- his father, LaVar.
During a recent radio appearance, LaVar made it clear that he isn't a fan of the way that coach Stan Van Gundy has been using Lonzo and as a result, he wants to see the Pelicans trade him elsewhere.
"No, he can't stay in New Orleans," LaVar said, via USA Today. "Come on, man. Come on, listen. ... Lonzo's always been a playmaker. Why are you trying to change him into a defensive specialist that stays in the corner and shoots 3s? And you're trying to change Zion and Brandon Ingram who, all through their careers, have never been playmakers. Scorers! Now you want to put the ball in their hands and be playmakers? ... Go score the ball and do what you do and guess what? They're gonna have a hard time trying to win every game if the playmaker ain't making the right plays."
LaVar might not like how he's being used, but Lonzo is in the midst of a solid season with the Pelicans. He has started in all 38 games that he has appeared in, and he's averaging 14.2 points, 5.6 assists, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per performance. He's also shooting a career-high 42 percent from the floor and a career-high 38 percent from long range. But, despite his productive play, Ball's future in New Orleans is uncertain as he and the team were unable to agree on an extension prior to the start of the season. The Pelicans will have the opportunity to match any outside offer Ball gets in free agency over the offseason. However, if Ball isn't necessarily in their long-term plans, or if they don't think that they're going to want to pay him what other teams might offer, trading him now so that they get something in return -- as opposed to just letting him walk in free agency -- would make some sense.
The Pelicans haven't publicly stated what they plan to do with Ball, but they're surely considering all options. Despite LaVar's wishes, it seems pretty safe to say that the organization is not going to put too much stock into his comments. If they think that Lonzo is a good fit for the franchise long-term, then they hang on to him and try to get a deal done over the offseason. If not, then LaVar's wish may come true.