Lonzo Ball has been one of the hottest names mentioned in trade talks this week ahead of the NBA’s Thursday deadline. On Tuesday night, speculation that the New Orleans Pelicans plan to deal their young point guard reached a new high.
Prior to the Pelicans game against the short-handed Los Angeles Lakers, the team ruled Ball out of the contest with a “right hip flexor strain.” He’ll now be absent for a second straight game after he did not dress for the New Orleans meeting with the Denver Nuggets on Sunday.
Because Ball has been tied to various hypothetical trades over the last few days, NBA fans were skeptical of the injury designation on Tuesday. It’s a common tactic for teams to hold out players that might be on the move around the deadline, so the Pelicans may be doing just that.
NBA Twitter reached a similar conclusion that Ball’s “injury” probably isn’t serious, but that the trade talks involving him are.
— The Stimmy Sergeant (@Symone_Devine) March 23, 2021
The Pelicans say Lonzo Ball (flight to Philly) is out for tonight's game against the Lakers. https://t.co/XvWLfHgwVO
— Nick Brown (@NickyBeaster) March 23, 2021
The Pelicans say Lonzo Ball (traded to the Chicago Bulls) is out for tonight’s game against the Lakers. https://t.co/iddhPGK0dk
— Natanel (@JustNatanel) March 23, 2021
The Pelicans say Lonzo Ball (getting traded by the end of tomorrow) is out for tonight’s game against the Lakers.* https://t.co/Lqh0x0nyEH
— Spurs BR 🇧🇷 (@SpursBR_) March 23, 2021
Ball is in the midst of the best season of his career, averaging 14.2 points, 5.6 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game for the Pelicans. He’s also shooting a career-high 38.5 percent from beyond-the arc. As a result, a handful of teams have been connected to the 23-year-old point guard over the past few weeks, including a few contenders.
A report last week from Marc Stein claimed that the Clippers had been “exploring trade routes” for Ball. Despite having talented wings, Los Angeles is in desperate need of a facilitator. The young Pelicans point guard could perfectly fill that role and be in the rotation on a team with title potential.
According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, Denver has also been engaged in negotiations for Ball. The report claimed that the Nuggets offered versatile seven-footer Bol Bol to the Pelicans in a potential deal.
Even Magic Johnson weighed in on the speculation, stating that the New York Knicks should take a look at the former No. 2 overall pick.
Whatever his final landing spot might be, it looks unlikely that Ball will be staying on the Pelicans. Instead, he’s in great position to end up with playoff-bound team within the next few days.