The Clippers remain in the market for a play-maker at the point guard position and are exploring possible avenues to acquire Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball before the March 25 trade deadline, league sources tell Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link).
Ball, 23, has been the subject of off-and-on trade rumors this season as he nears restricted free agency. He has developed a nice chemistry with Pelicans star Zion Williamson and has the potential to continue improving, but New Orleans will have to decide whether or not it wants to pay big money to retain him a long-term deal this offseason.
While the Pelicans would have the ability to match any offer Ball receives in restricted free agency, they may only be comfortable up to a certain price point. If they’re concerned about a team extending an offer sheet that exceeds that price point, it would make sense to see what they could get in return for Ball now, especially since their 17-24 record has them slipping out of the playoff race.
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Ball is averaging a career-high 14.2 PPG on .425/.385/.767 shooting (all career highs) to go along with 5.6 APG and 4.2 RPG in 38 games (31.7 MPG). He has played more off the ball this season, something his father LaVar Ball griped about in a recent appearance on ESPN Radio in Los Angeles. As Christian Clark of NOLA.com details, the outspoken Ball patriarch expressed a desire to see the Pelicans trade his son.
The Clippers are having another strong season, currently holding a top-four seed in the West with a 26-16 record. However, they’ve long been on the lookout for some extra play-making — Paul George (5.3 APG) and Kawhi Leonard (4.9 APG) currently lead the team in assists. Veteran point guards Terry Rozier, George Hill, and Ricky Rubio have been cited as possible targets for L.A.
If the Clippers make a move for a player earning a mid-level salary or higher, Lou Williams ($8MM) may have to be one of the outgoing pieces. All of the team’s players making more than $5MM are part of the regular rotation and aren’t necessarily expendable, which will make it challenging to swing a deal.
As Stein points out (via Twitter), the Clippers’ lack of draft assets may also complicate their pursuit of Ball and other point guard targets. If the club makes a push for Ball, it may require a three-team construction, Stein adds.