The summer is set to be an intriguing one for Lonzo Ball and the New Orleans Pelicans. With Ball set for restricted free agency and the franchise coming off a disappointing season, returning to the franchise is not a given.
Ball has been linked to multiple teams during his time in New Orleans, most notably in the Bulls and Knicks. The former team was the most serious suitor for Ball at the trade deadline, though nothing of note came of that interest.
Entering the offseason, though, those two teams could renew their interest in Ball and Bleacher Report predicted as much. In a piece by Greg Swartz projecting a trade for every team, Ball was included in a pair of deals, though neither was a part of the Pelicans section.
For the Knicks, the projected trade included Ball being dealt to New York along with Jaxson Hayes for big man Mitchell Robinson. It would be an interesting deal to say the least, particularly for New Orleans. While Robinson has shown promise, there is little to separate him and Hayes in terms of potential and production.
Therefore, adding Ball to a Hayes-Robinson swap would be a mighty overpay by the Pelicans, who would certainly seek more in return for a trade of Ball.
The second deal came under the Bulls section and would see Ball dealt alongside Eric Bledsoe to the Windy City for Lauri Markkanen, Thaddeus Young and a 2024 second round pick.
This deal is more or less the same construction of a deal discussed during the trade deadline. Markkanen was dangled as the main return for the Pelicans in a trade of Ball, a move that did not intrigue them then. Whether the team’s thoughts on Markkanen would change six months later seems unlikely.
Markkanen is still a clunky fit in the Pelicans front court, particularly if they retain Steven Adams. There is no clear space in their front court for him and he would be a rocky partner defensively for Zion Williamson.
Interestingly, the trade for the Pelicans involved the team sending out Hayes, Bledsoe and two first round picks to Indiana for Myles Turner and Jeremy Lamb. While bringing in Turner to pair with Williamson seems like a better pairing than Adams-Williamson, this trade does not send out Adams and would result in the Pelicans paying a substantial amount of money for two centers.
Still, Turner is a name that could be on the Pelicans radar this offseason while Ball could similarly be on the radar of the Knicks and Bulls.