Lonzo Ball Rumors: Contract Extension Talks with Pelicans ‘Likely’ This Summer

New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball (2) dribbles the ball down the court in the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Sunday, March 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Rusty Costanza)

Rusty Costanza/Associated Press

As the New Orleans Pelicans prepare to resume their season as part of the NBA‘s 22-team restart in Orlando, Florida, the stakes may be even higher for guard Lonzo Ball.  

The former No. 2 overall pick in 2017 will become eligible to sign an extension ahead of his fourth year in the league and could earn himself a large payday along with some peace of mind. 

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium told the Load Management podcast he believes Ball will begin extension talks this summer. Already the former UCLA star is averaging a career-best 12.4 points, 7.0 assists and 6.2 rebounds this season and could add to his value depending on how the Pelicans fare when the league restarts. 

New Orleans is currently tied with the Portland Trail Blazers for ninth place in the Western Conference and trails the Memphis Grizzlies by just 3.5 games for the final playoff spot. Under the league’s new rules for its resumption of play, the ninth-place team must be within four games of the eighth-place team to trigger a play-in tournament to see who advances to the postseason.

The ninth-place team would need to win two games before the eighth-place team wins one to move on. A fully healthy Pelicans team certainly has the pieces necessary to make a run like that happen. 

Ball can prove he’s worthy of remaining a franchise building block over the rest of the season and earn himself some leverage at the bargaining table as well. 

At 22 years old, Ball is set to earn $11 million next year and could accept a qualifying offer of $14.35 million in 2021-2022. If not, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent and able to sign with any club, though New Orleans will retain the option to match. 

Plenty around the league will have interest in Ball’s extension talks as a number of high-profile players from the 2017 draft class prepare for their initial contract to expire, including Jayson Tatum, De’Aaron Fox, Jonathan Issac, Donovan Mitchell, Bam Adebayo, OG Anunoby and Jarrett Allen. 

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