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Pending New Orleans Pelicans free agent Lonzo Ball ‘would love to be back’

Point guard Lonzo Ball is approaching free agency for the first time in his NBA career, but that doesn’t mean he’s itching to find a new home.

Ball, a pending restricted free agent, told reporters Monday that he’d be open to re-signing with the New Orleans Pelicans this summer.

“That’s a conversation between me and my agent moving forward. But obviously I would love to be back,” Ball said. “I built a bond here with the coaches and the teammates who are here. I definitely wouldn’t mind coming back at all.”

The eldest of three brothers with hoops aspirations and a boisterous patriarch, Ball was the second overall draft pick by the Lakers in 2017. He went to New Orleans as part of the trade that brought Anthony Davis to join LeBron James with the Lakers.

In March, father LaVar Ball said in a radio interview ahead of the NBA trade deadline that his son wanted out of New Orleans, but Lonzo has yet to confirm that publicly.

As a restricted free agent, Ball does not have complete freedom to sign where he chooses. The Pelicans will have the right to match any offer sheet Ball signs.

Ball played in 55 games (all starts) in 2020-21 and finished with averages of 14.6 points (a career high), 5.7 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals. In his four-year career with the Lakers and Pelicans, Ball has averaged 11.7 points, 6.4 assists and 5.8 rebounds.

Ball’s job with the Pelicans this year was different, he said – “more of a 3-and-D role” than a facilitator.

Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy “put me in a little different position this year than I’ve been in my whole life,” Ball said. “But I think I made the most of it. And I think I had a pretty good year.”

With former NCAA star Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Ball leading the way, New Orleans finished the season 31-41, missing a berth in the Western Conference play-in tournament by just two games.

–Field Level Media