NBA insider Shams Charania of the Athletic reported Tuesday morning that the L.A. Clippers are among the teams looking to acquire soon-to-be restricted free agent Lonzo Ball.
“New Orleans is unlikely to match a significant offer sheet on Ball, sources said,” Charania wrote of the Pelicans guard. “The Bulls and Clippers are expected to be among the teams interested in him.”
The Clippers had reportedly shown interest in Ball prior to the 2021 trade deadline, but no deal was made. Though L.A. is intrigued by the 23-year-old point guard, it’s going to be tough to make the “significant offer” Charania is referring to (though the exact walk-away figure that New Orleans has is unclear) due to salary cap restrictions. If Kawhi Leonard re-signs, L.A. will already be over the cap, and they still have in-house free agents Reggie Jackson and Nicolas Batum to consider.
A sign-and-trade could also be explored, but the Clippers are short on assets as a result of the Paul George trade. It doesn’t seem likely that the young Pelicans would be interested in any of L.A.’s veterans to salary-match Ball’s new deal.
On the court, Ball is an intriguing fit. He has experience playing next to a ball-dominant scoring wing in Brandon Ingram, so he theoretically shouldn’t have too much trouble adjusting alongside Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. The 31-41 Pelicans were +2.3 points per 100 possessions this season when both Ball and Ingram were on the court. He’s improved his three-point shooting, knocking down 37.8% of his shots from deep this season.
NBA free agency begins on Aug. 6 at 9:01 a.m.