The NBA is always a hectic landscape around the time of free agency and the draft – teams either take hopeful gambles on who they believe will be the superstars of the next generation or sign established stars to lucrative deals worth millions. Rarely, though, does homegrown talent find their way back onto the team that drafted them, especially one that traded them away for a superstar. But, that’s exactly what the Los Angeles Lakers are hoping to do with New Orleans Pelicans point guard Lonzo Ball, who they drafted second overall back in the 2017 NBA draft.
According to Marc Stein, an established sports reporter for The New York Times, the Lakers are looking to acquire a “difference-making” playmaker who would allow LeBron James and Anthony Davis to spend more time at their natural positions. The team experimented this past season with point guard Dennis Schroeder in that role, but the German player’s lack of performance in this year’s playoffs which led to the team’s unceremonious first-round exit against the Phoenix Suns seems to have spurred their search for new talent. Ball has improved tremendously as a player since he last donned a Lakers jersey, adding a consistent three-point shot to his all-around playmaking ability that he was drafted so high for.
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After two seasons as the Lakers’ starting point guard, Ball was included in a monstrous trade package alongside Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and multiple first round picks to the Pelicans, in order to acquire superstar forward Davis and pair him alongside James for the 2019-20 season. The Lakers went on to win the NBA championship that season at the Orlando bubble, in the team’s first season following the franchise-altering trade, while Ball and the Pelicans have missed the playoffs in both years since. It’s unknown what it will take for the Lakers to reacquire Ball, but the team is certainly looking at a tough road ahead given his desire for a pay day and his designation as a restricted free agent. They would likely need to trade assets and sign him to a hefty extension if they want him on the court alongside James and Davis.
LeBron and Lonzo shared a season together with the Lakers at the beginning of James’ tenure in Los Angeles, but an injury-riddled season from the King and underwhelming performances from the Lakers’ young core at the time led to the team missing the playoffs, breaking a years-long playoffs and Finals streak for James. The pair still keep up on social media, with James recently commenting his appreciation for Ball’s post about playing against younger brother LaMelo in early May.
Check out a flashback photo of Ball’s time on the Lakers below. Would you like to see Ball back on the Lakers? Let us know in the comments.