Lonzo Ball trade rumors have been a major part of the game throughout the 2020-21 season. That’s primarily due to his status as an impending free agent and a seemingly questionable future with the New Orleans Pelicans.
Lonzo’s ball boisterous dad added to these rumors by suggesting that he wants to see his son traded. Meanwhile, the still-young 23-year-old guard is in the midst of his best season.
Whether a deal happens ahead of Thursday’s NBA trade deadline remains to be see. However, one new team has emerged as a potential suitor. Surprisingly, it comes in the form of the Philadelphia 76ers.
“Beyond (Kyle) Lowry, Sixers have shown interest in other guards available in the marketplace — including Powell, Lonzo Ball and George Hill,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski noted Tuesday evening.
We already know that front office head Daryl Morey and the 76ers are in on a potential deal for Kyle Lowry. In fact, they are seen as finalists with the conference-rival Miami Heat.
A potential trade with the Toronto Raptors for Lowry might rely heavily on Philadelphia being willing to part with stud rookie Tyrese Maxey. Given that the 76ers’ brass was not prepared to give Maxey up in a James Harden blockbuster, that seems highly unlikely.
With that said, a Lonzo Ball trade might come cheaper in terms of compensation heading to New Orleans. Given his potential fit in Philadelphia and young age, it could be an enticing opportunity for Philadelphia.
Would Lonzo Ball fit in with the 76ers?
It’s pretty simple on the surface. Ben Simmons is currently Philadelphia’s ball-dominant guard. It doesn’t have another player averaging more than 3.6 assists per game. That comes in the form of Tobias Harris, who mans a point-forward position when Simmons is resting.
Ball would be an absolutely tremendous fit in this regard. He could actually push Simmons to more of an off-ball role, something that would help the 76ers maximize the wealth of mismatches Simmons can cause smaller defenders.
It’s also important to note that Philadelphia sought to add three-point shooting to the mix in its first offseason with Morey running the show. That came in the form of Seth Curry and Danny Green. It’s worked out to an extent. After some initial struggles this season, Ball is shooting 39% from distance. That includes an eye-opening 42% mark since the start of February. Yeah, he’d be a tremendous fit.
How might a Lonzo Ball trade to the Philadelphia 76ers look?
First off, there’s a pretty big backdrop here. Philadelphia finds itself $11.4 million over the luxury tax. It is also $34.9 million over the NBA salary cap.
With about that much set to come off the books, these 76ers would not be able to afford Ball as a restricted free agent during the summer. In fact, he’s said to be demanding about $20 million annually.
If Philadelphia wants Ball to be a part of its long-term future, it will have to trade for him ahead of Thursday’s deadline. The team could then use the Bird Rights clause to retain him on the restricted free agent market.
With that as a backdrop and knowing full well New Orleans is not giving Ball up for nothing, here’s how a trade might look.
- 76ers get: Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart
- Pelicans get: Danny Green, Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz, first-round pick
This deal would make a ton of sense from New Orleans’ perspective. Despite being somewhat high on young two-guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker, front office head David Griffin is seeking a traditional off-ball player.
The defensive-minded Thybulle could very well be that should he develop a more consistent game on the other end of the court. Meanwhile, the 23-year-old Korkmaz could be an option at both the two and three. The former first-round pick is averaging 9.2 points on 37% shooting from distance this season.
From Philadelphia’s perspective, the idea of a Lonzo Ball trade also makes sense. It would team him up with an impressive combination of Seth Curry and Shake Milton in the backcourt.
The team would then have Ben Simmons man the point-forward position, Tobias Harris move to the four and MVP candidate Joel Embiid dominate at center. Better yet, Tyrese Maxey would remain a big part of the 76ers’ future.