Lonzo Ball was the subject of trade rumors up until last week's deadline, but they weren't exactly self-initiated. The Pelicans, currently seeded No. 12 in the Western Conference, are having a disappointing season, and Ball's father, LaVar, pushed the issue by publicly calling for a trade, saying his son "can't stay in New Orleans." Ball's father doesn't speak for him, though, as he ultimately was not dealt and seemed quite happy about it Wednesday.
"I'm happy to be here," Ball told reporters. "It was a long day. But overall, I ended up not getting moved and staying here, where I wanted to be. So it all worked out how it was supposed to." Ball added that he is "comfortable" in New Orleans and that he loves "playing with Z and B," in reference to Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.
Ball is having a career year in New Orleans. He is shooting a career-best 38.5 percent from behind the arc while averaging 14.2 points, 5.6 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game. He is playing some of the best defense of his career, and all told, that will make him a highly sought-after restricted free agent this offseason.
That likely played a part in New Orleans' decision to listen to offers at the deadline. Brandon Ingram already signed a max contract extension last offseason, and Zion Williamson will get one after next season. If Ball gets a hefty deal as well, the Pelicans would be committing to a core that currently doesn't even have them in the play-in round of the postseason. They could always trade a core player down the line, but for now, it seems as though New Orleans isn't eager to give Ball the contract he's earned.
That situation will play out in the offseason, and New Orleans will have the right to match any offer made to Ball in restricted free agency. Ball says he wants to be a Pelican, but at that point, we'll see if the Pelicans want him as badly.