Lonzo Ball is having arguably the worst season of his still young career. Entering Friday’s game vs. Milwaukee, he was shooting 30 percent from three, a career low, and his assists and rebounds are down significantly from last season. Now he’s hearing his name in trade rumors as the Pelicans, who chose not to sign Ball to an extension this past offseason, are reportedly listening to offers for the fourth-year combo guard.
Who knows if the chatter lit a fire in him or he just had a hot night, but either way, Ball tied a career high with seven 3-pointers in New Orleans’ 131-126 victory over the Bucks. Ball finished 7 of 13 from deep en route to 27 points, which is just two off the career-high 29 he notched in just his second game as a pro with the Lakers in 2017.
It’s a small sample to cling to (two games; yeah, we’re clinging alright), but Ball is now 10 for his last 20 from three, which puts him up to 33 percent for the season.
As New Orleans builds around Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, the latter of whom is going to control the ball more and more moving forward, Lonzo’s only real offensive value within that context is as a catch-and-shoot floor spacer. If he can hit 3s closer to the 38-percent clip he posted last season, there’s real value for him in New Orleans given his defensive versatility, and it’s not like having another capable ball handler to push the pace and get everyone involved is a bad thing as a secondary role.
But it just feels like the Pelicans feels the ship has sailed on Ball being a consistent enough 3-point shooter to commit to him long term. In another situation, some of his other attributes would be more valuable. Know this: If Lonzo strings together some more shooting nights like the one he had on Friday, teams are going to become increasingly interested in his services, and the Pelicans aren’t likely to turn down any decent offer at the risk of losing Ball for nothing in restricted free agency.