Lonzo Ball 'would love to' return to Pelicans next season as restricted free agency looms

·Writer
·3 min read

If Lonzo Ball has his way, he’d be suiting up with the New Orleans Pelicans again next season.

Ball, who is set to become a restricted free agent this summer, said he hopes to return to the Pelicans for his next contract.

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

Ball just wrapped up his fourth season in the league and averaged a career-high 14.6 points per game with New Orleans. He also shot a career high both from the field, at 41.4%, and from behind the arc, at 37.8%. The Pelicans finished the season with a 31-41 record, and just narrowly missed the Western Conference play-in tournament.

The 23-year-old’s initial four-year, $33 million deal he signed with the Los Angeles Lakers is set to expire, but the Pelicans have the right to match any offer sheet Ball signs with another team this summer.

Ball isn’t the only one who hopes he returns to New Orleans next season, either. Zion Williamson is right there with him.

“It’d be dope [if he came back],” Williamson said, via ESPN. “Me, [Brandon Ingram] and Zo, the three of us have a great relationship. I really would want Zo to come back. He knows that.

“But you know, like I said, the reality of the situation is Zo is a grown man, so he’ll make the decision that’s best for him. The only thing I can say is, I hope he stays.”

LaVar Ball doesn’t want Lonzo in New Orleans

While Lonzo may hope to stay in New Orleans, his dad almost certainly isn’t happy about that.

LaVar Ball, the outspoken patriarch of the Big Baller Brand, insisted ahead of the trade deadline in March that his son needed to be traded away from the Pelicans — even after Ball was having the best season of his career.

“No! No, he can’t stay in New Orleans,” Ball screamed on ESPN in March. “Come on, man. Come on, listen … Lonzo’s always been a playmaker. Why are you trying to change him into a defensive specialist that stays in the corner and shoots 3s? And you’re trying to change Zion and Brandon Ingram who all through their careers have never been playmakers. They’re scorers! Now you want to put the ball in their hands and be playmakers? … Go score the ball and do what you do and guess what? They’re gonna have a hard time trying to win every game if the playmaker ain’t making the right plays.”

New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball
Both Lonzo Ball and Zion Williamson hope the eldest Ball brother returns to New Orleans next season. (AP/Rusty Costanza)

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