The big question looming over the Pelicans this offseason is whether restricted free agent Lonzo Ball will remain with the franchise. Ball told Andrew Lopez of ESPN and other media members on Monday he’d like to stay.
“That’s a conversation between me and my agent moving forward. But obviously I would love to be back,” Ball said. “I built a bond here with the coaches and the teammates who are here. I definitely wouldn’t mind coming back at all.”
Franchise player Zion Williamson is also hoping that Ball will remain. The front office will have to extend a $14.36MM qualifying offer to prevent Ball from becoming an unrestricted free agent, then would have the ability to match any offer sheet he signs.
“I really would want ‘Zo to come back,” Williamson said. “He knows that. But you know, like I said, the reality of the situation is ‘Zo is a grown man, so he’ll make the decision that’s best for him. The only thing I can say is I hope he stays.”
We have more on the Pelicans:
- Brandon Ingram is another fan of Ball’s, calling him a “generational” talent due to his passing ability, Lopez tweets. Ingram is also hopeful that another one of the Pelicans’ RFAs, Josh Hart ($5.23MM qualifying offer), will stay put.
- The injury big man Jaxson Hayes suffered in the season finale on Sunday was a muscle contusion, Will Guillory of The Athletic tweets. Hayes confirms the injury is a short-term issue, Lopez tweets. “There’s a little bit of swelling and I can’t bend it too well,” Hayes said. “But it’s just a contusion. I’ll be fine in a week or so.”
- Executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin said he purposely kept the team under the luxury tax, though there was no mandate from ownership. He said his bosses are willing to pay the tax in the future once it becomes a serious title contender, Lopez relays in a string of tweets. “It was something where we didn’t want to start our clock,” Griffin said. “I think this organization and ownership team has been very clear with us that when we have a chance to put the pedal to the medal and build a championship team… I believe there is a willingness to do that. But it’s about picking your spots.”
- Finding the right combination of players around Williamson is the ultimate front office goal for the franchise, Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider link) writes. Marks takes a deep dive into the Pelicans’ offseason decisions, their cap situation, and the draft. New Orleans owns not only a lottery pick but four second-rounders.