New Orleans Pelicans Face A Big decision With Lonzo Ball On the Clock

With the draft quickly approaching, the New Orleans Pelicans face big decisions this offseason as Lonzo Ball is due a contract extension. Franchise stars Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram have openly expressed their desire to continue playing with Ball, further complicating matters for General Manager David Griffin. Ball will get paid this Summer but will it be from New Orleans?

New Orleans Pelicans Face A Big Decision With Lonzo Ball On the Clock

Salary Cap Situation (millions)

Active Roster Cap: 94.4
Cap Holds: 87.7
Max Salary Cap Max: 112.4
Luxury Tax Threshold: 136.6

Without extensions, New Orleans is on the hook for approximately $94.4-million-dollars. New Orleans is one of the poorest teams in the NBA so potentially paying luxury tax for a squad that didn’t make the play-in last season is not ideal.

Lonzo Ball 2020-21 Season Breakdown

Each season, Ball has made improvements to his game, especially in the shooting department. Last season, he averaged a career-high in points (14.6). field-goal percentage (41.4), three-point percentage (37.8), and free throw percentage (78.1). Although his true shooting percentage was still below league average (55.1), it is a massive improvement compared to where he was in his first three years.

In back-to-back games, Ball scored a career-high 33 points and was absolutely blistering from three. He showed some new skills as well, hitting from the midrange, stepbacks, and fadeaways.

Another area he showed improvement was his willingness to run and score off pick and roll actions in the halfcourt. He was able to generate 0.94 points per possession. While it’s not fantastic, it is a major increase from his 2020 season where he averaged a poor 0.58 points per possession. If Ball continues in this upward trajectory, he could eventually become a high-level starter and borderline All-Star.

What Does a Deal Look Like?

Ball has remade himself into a three and D wing with high-level secondary ball-handling characteristics. Teams are looking for long, rangy ball handlers who can hit from the outside and play elite-level defense. Ball is a terrific defender at the guard position and possesses terrific size at 6-foot-7 with a 6-foot-10 wingspan. Now that he has found consistency with his three-point shot (37.6 percent on 7.3 attempts the last two seasons), he is in line for a huge raise.

A fair comparable deal is a contract signed by Toronto Raptors forward OG Anunoby who signed for four years, $72-million-dollars last December. Given the financial climate of the NBA and how many teams have cap space, Ball is likely to receive something closer to four years, $100-million-dollars. In my mind, this is the maximum teams should be willing to go for Ball. However, there is always a team in the NBA that massively overpays in Restricted Free Agency.

At four years, $100-million, the Pelicans should definitely match.

New Orleans Pelicans and Lonzo Ball Set to Part Ways?

Reports have begun to swirl around the availability of Lonzo Ball to rival clubs. Most recently, Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports wrote a story surrounding the Pelican’s intentions in Free Agency.

This should come as no surprise since Ball has basically been dangled as a trade chip for months. However, not trying to get something back for the young star adds to a string of missteps by Griffin who extended Steven Adams and acquired Eric Bledsoe last offseason.

Organizations typically like to keep their cards close to their chest, particularly when it comes to Restricted Free Agents.

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