NBA trade rumors: Pelicans considering offseason sign-and-trade of Lonzo Ball

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The New Orleans Pelicans shopped Lonzo Ball at the trade deadline, and the door is open to an offseason deal.

As a looming restricted free agent, Lonzo Ball drew a lot of interest at the trade deadline. The New Orleans Pelicans ultimately hung onto him, after discussions with multiple teams. But the questions about his future aren’t gone.

The Pelicans ultimately control Ball’s fate for next season, as they can match any offer sheet he gets from another team. Where the point is that they wouldn’t match an offer sheet is unknown, but there will be suitors.

According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Andrew Lopez, Ball may be available via a sign-and-trade deal this offseason.

Ball was involved in trade discussions with several teams before last month’s trade deadline, with the LA Clippers, Chicago Bulls, Denver Nuggets and Atlanta Hawks among the teams showing interest. Some executives came away from those talks with the belief that Ball might be available in a sign-and-trade in the offseason as a restricted free agent.

Is getting Lonzo Ball via a sign-and-trade realistic?

Off the top, yes it’s definitely viable for a team to get Ball via a sign-and-trade. But as Sam Quinn of CBS Sports pointed to, an acquiring team would hard-cap itself at about $6 million above the tax line. Then there’s the cost of a new contract, with Ball’s qualifying offer of $14.36 million for next year as a mark to keep in mind.

Ball is averaging a career-best 13.8 points per game this season while maintaining last season’s progress as a 3-point shooter (37.6 percent) and cutting his turnovers to 2.0 per game (3.1 per game last year). He is a good fit with Zion Williamson, especially as Williamson has been unearthed as a playmaker this season.

If the Pelicans want to keep Ball, they can and will. But the door is open for other teams to consider what they’d give up for a talented player who still has upside.

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