We're still two months away from the NBA's March 25 trade deadline, extended from its normal mid-February timeline in this truncated season, but rumors are already starting to fly about who might be on the move. One predictable name already in the center of talks: Lonzo Ball.
This past offseason, the New Orleans Pelicans opted not to sign Ball to a rookie extension, meaning he'll be a restricted free agent this summer. The Pelicans wanted more time to evaluate whether the significant 3-point-shooting strides Ball made last season were a one-off or something to trust moving forward, and ultimately his long-term fit with the franchise.
As New Orleans builds around Brandon Ingram, who is controlling more and more possessions with the ball in his hands, and Zion Williamson, optimal floor spacing becomes paramount, and Ball's shooting has regressed to under 30 percent from 3 and under 40 percent from the field.
As such, the Pelicans have "shown an openness" to trading Ball, along with JJ Redick, and are receiving calls on both from multiple teams, per The Athletic's Shams Charania, who added that New Orleans and the Golden State Warriors have "discussed a potential deal" involving Kelly Oubre Jr., though there hasn't been any real traction on that front yet.
Ball's shooting might always be an inconsistent part of his game, but he still brings a lot in the right situation. Offensively, he needs to be in a flowing, fast-paced, ball-movement-oriented system where he's not strictly a spot-up shooter but also isn't responsible for much half-court creation. Defensively, he helps any team.
The Clippers would seem like a fantastic fit for a non-scoring point guard who can get the ball in the hands of their premier scorers while adding to their defensive versatility. If that Oubre rumor were to ever become real, putting Ball in the Warriors' offense with Stephen Curry running around off the ball has tantalizing potential, particularly if they were to re-sign him and put him alongside Curry and Klay Thompson next season.
Ball is a high IQ player who is capable of making quick reads to get Curry and Thompson open and would seemingly thrive within Golden State's intricate design of movement, which it had to scale back on with Oubre in the fold. The Knicks would also make some sense. It's a big name in New York on a team that is quietly being built around a big, versatile defense, and again, Ball wouldn't carry the franchise player expectations that have shifted to RJ Barrett. I wouldn't absolutely hate the idea of putting him next to his brother, LaMelo Ball, in Charlotte. Orlando has needed a point guard forever. Miami or Chicago wouldn't be the worst fits in the world, either.
As for Redick, every contending team is going to be at least halfway interested in adding that kind of shooting to its arsenal, even if Redick is shooting just 30 percent from beyond the arc so far this season. In fact, that might be the opening a team needs to not have to give up too much in bidding against the whole league.
This is definitely something to monitor. The Pelicans' season is off to a bad start and the future continues to be the priority. If they don't think Ball is a long-term piece, and at this point, it doesn't feel like they do, then they're likely not going to match offers in free agency and would thus lose him for nothing without a trade. The same goes for Redick, who is an unrestricted free agent this summer. Might as well get value while it's there to be had.