Pelicans Extend Qualifying Offers To Ball, Hart

The Pelicans have extended qualifying offers to Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart, making them restricted free agents this summer, tweets Andrew Lopez of ESPN.

Ball’s qualifying offer is worth about $14.36MM, while Hart’s is approximately $5.24MM. Those are one-year contract offers that could theoretically be accepted, but Ball and Hart will likely earn more lucrative multiyear deals in free agency.

As long as the Pelicans keep those qualifying offers on the table, they’ll have the ability to match any offer sheet signed by Ball or Hart, and would have the leverage necessary to negotiate a sign-and-trade.

It remains unclear whether either Ball or Hart will return to New Orleans. The Pelicans’ agreement to trade Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams creates some cap flexibility for a bigger free agent acquisition, and the team is said to be eyeing Kyle Lowry and other point guards, including Spencer Dinwiddie.

Ball is unlikely to return if the Pelicans land one of those targets, since he’d probably need to be renounced to clear the necessary cap space. But if New Orleans strikes out on the free agent market, it will be interesting to see how the club handles Ball’s situation. He has been linked to the Bulls, Celtics, Raptors, Pacers, and Knicks, among other teams.

The Pelicans could potentially clear enough space to land a top free agent point guard without renouncing Hart, so he looks – for now – like a decent bet to return to the team.

Luke Adams contributed to this story.

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