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2 ways the Los Angeles Clippers can land Lonzo Ball during NBA free agency

The Los Angeles Clippers will be in the market for an upgrade at point guard. Even with their limited assets, rumors persist that Lonzo Ball could be an option.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported recently that the Clippers are among those interested in the New Orleans Pelicans restricted free agent. It stands to reason after the likes of Rajon Rondo and Patrick Beverley struggled in that area a season ago.

Fresh off news that star forward Kawhi Leonard could miss a vast majority of the 2021-22 season due to a partially torn ACL, pressure is on the Clippers to add another good player to the mix. Below, we look at two ways they can acquire Ball this summer.

Los Angeles Clippers pull off sign-and-trade for Lonzo Ball

los angeles clippers pull off sign-and-trade for lonzo ball
Nov 24, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball (2) shoots during the third quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

This would obviously be the easiest path to acquiring Ball. Los Angeles could end up enticing the Pelicans with the 25th pick in the 2021 NBA Draft as well as impressive young wing Terance Mann as the centerpieces in a sign-and-trade for Ball. From there, someone like Marcus Morris would have to head to New Orleans to make the salaries work.

The Pelicans are in the market for a true two-guard to team up with Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram. It’s also being reported that they are floating the 10th pick in the 2021 NBA Draft for veteran reinforcements. Pure conjecture here, but adding another first-rounder and an asset in Mann could help front office head David Griffin make a bigger move to appease Williamson.

For Los Angeles, this would be the best way to bring Ball aboard. The former No. 2 overall pick put up a career-best season in 2020-21, averaging 14.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5.7 assists on 38% shooting from distance. He’d be an obvious upgrade over what the Clippers ran out there last year and could actually help them keep at least one eye on the future.

Los Angeles Clippers sign Lonzo Ball outright

Apr 26, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA;  New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball (2) drives to the basket against LA Clippers guard Paul George (13) during the second half at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 26, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball (2) drives to the basket against LA Clippers guard Paul George (13) during the second half at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles is expected to be roughly $37 million over the cap. Obviously, that changes drastically when Kawhi Leonard opts out of his contract. In this scenario, Leonard waits until a Ball signing becomes official before re-upping with the Clippers. It’s a way teams in Los Angeles’ situation have circumvented the cap in the past.

Before any of this could happen, the Clippers would have to clear up north of $20 million in cap room by moving the likes of Luke Kennard and perhaps Ivica Zubac to a team with cap room — enticing said squad with Mann and/or a first round pick.

Rebuilding teams such as the Oklahoma City Thunder, Detroit Pistons and Cleveland Cavaliers are all estimated to have enough cap room to absorb these contracts.

The only question here is whether Los Angeles would be willing to part ways with three rotational players for Lonzo Ball while relying on veteran minimum contracts to fill out the remainder of its rotation. I am not too sure about that.