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Los Angeles Lakers interested in Lonzo Ball, 2 ways it could work

The Los Angeles Lakers are looking to find a play-making guard to help LeBron James and Anthony Davis following an ugly first-round exit in the 2021 NBA Playoffs.

Meanwhile, a bit further east, New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball is slated to become a restricted free agent next month. Ball, 23, was the No. 2 pick of the Los Angeles Lakers back in 2017 before being dealt to the Bayou in the Anthony Davis blockbuster ahead of the 2019-20 season.

Now, we’re hearing some whispers that the Lakers are interested in reacquiring Ball this summer.

“Expect to eventually hear of them searching for potential pathways, however obstacle-strewn they would be, to reacquiring restricted free agent-to-be Lonzo Ball for that reason,” veteran NBA reported Marc Stein noted recently.

Coming off a career-best performance in 2020-21 that saw him average 14.6 points and 5.7 assists on 38% shooting from distance, Ball would be a great get for the Lakers. In fact, he’d be a marked upgrade from another pending free agent in Dennis Schroder.

How can the Los Angeles Lakers acquire Lonzo Ball?

los angeles lakers trade for lonzo ball?
January 3, 2020; Los Angeles, California, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball (2) moves the ball against Los Angeles Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (1) during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Finances are an issue here. Los Angeles wouldn’t be able to sign Ball outright due to its salary cap situation and the fact that he might be looking at $20 million annually on the open market. This means a sign-and-trade with the Pelicans would have to be in the cards.

Interestingly enough, New Orleans pushed for forward Kyle Kuzma in its trade talks with the Lakers surrounding Anthony Davis before settling on a package surrounding Brandon Ingram, Ball, Josh Hart and multiple future first-round picks. Could Pelicans front office head David Griffin kicks the tires on acquiring Kuzma now that he’s firmly on the trade block?

New Orleans is not simply going to give Lonzo Ball away to the Lakers for pennies on the dollar in a sign-and-trade scenario. Not only would it cost Los Angeles Kuzma, the likes of talented guard Talen Horton-Tucker and its first-round pick in the 2021 NBA Draft would have to be included.

Lonzo Ball sign-and-trade scenario to the Los Angeles Lakers

  • Lakers get: Lonzo Ball
  • Pelicans get: Kyle Kuzma, Talen Horton-Tucker, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, 2021 first-round pick

Lonzo Ball fit with the Los Angeles Lakers

Lonzo Ball Los Angeles Lakers
May 9, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball (2) brings the ball upcourt against the Charlotte Hornets in the first half at Spectrum Center. The New Orleans Pelicans won 112-110. Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

Talk about coming full circle. Acquiring Ball from New Orleans in a sign-and-trade would set Los Angeles up extremely well for the 2021-22 season and moving forward after an injury-plagued campaign cost the team an opportunity of repeating.

Despite his enigmatic nature, Ball would be a major upgrade over Schroder at the point guard position in Los Angeles. After all, the latter struggled to the tune of 40% shooting during the 2021 NBA Playoffs and has not created many fans among the Los Angeles’ elite.

It’s also important to note that Ball remains one of the best on-ball defenders at the point guard position in the NBA. This is an area the Los Angeles Lakers struggled in a season ago.

While giving up a promising youngster in Horton-Tucker and an valuable first-round pick might be a high price for Los Angeles to pay, the team is in win-now mode with King James committed to Southern California for the foreseeable future. Why not give him the play-maker he seeks?

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