JULY 6: The Hornets and Ball have officially finalized their deal, with the team issuing a press release to confirm the signing.
JULY 1: The Hornets and LaMelo Ball are finalizing a five-year designated rookie extension that will be worth the maximum salary, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Agent Sam Permut tells Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link) that the two sides have reached an agreement.
Ball’s starting salary on the new deal will pay him at least 25% of the 2024/25 cap. Charania’s report suggests there will be Rose Rule language that could increase that figure to 30% of the cap if Ball earns All-NBA honors next season.
The exact value of the contract will depend on where the ’24/25 cap lands and whether Ball meets the Rose Rule criteria, but even in a worst-case scenario, it will be worth well north of $200MM. In a best-case scenario (30% starting salary, 10% cap increase), it would be worth $260MM.
Charlotte selected the 6’7″ point guard with the third overall pick in the 2020 draft. He immediately emerged as a lethal and creative scorer all over the floor, and was named the 2020/21 Rookie of the Year despite being limited to just 51 out of 72 possible games (31 starts) in his first season due to injuries.
Ailments have been a recurring theme in Ball’s young career, outside of a relatively healthy 75-game run in 2021/22, during which he made his first All-Star team as an injury replacement.
A right ankle fracture ended his 2022/23 campaign early. He played in just 36 contests for the 27-55 Hornets. When Ball did play last year, he remained his stellar statistical self, though it didn’t particularly contribute to winning. He notched 23.3 PPG on .411/.376/.836 shooting splits, 8.4 APG, 5.4 RPG and 1.3 SPG.
Charlotte is undergoing some major changes this summer. The team selected highly-touted Alabama forward Brandon Miller, widely considered to be another All-Star caliber prospect, using the second pick in this year’s draft. Former longtime majority owner Michael Jordan also sold most of his shares in the club to a new ownership group, led by tech investor Ian Loring and several notable North Carolinians. The Hall of Famer will still retain a stake in the franchise moving forward.