Just when it looked like the Toronto Raptors were going to start to throw in the towel and officially move into “seller” territory, LaVar Ball just opened the trade floodgates with his mouth, as one-time Raptors trade target and New Orleans Pelicans point guard Lonzo Ball might be on the move soon thanks to his loudmouthed father’s comments.
While Ball has improved on the offensive end this season, he often finds himself playing third fiddle behind Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, and the Pelicans’ sudden lack of defense has made it almost impossible for them to contend in the West.
Ball could either accept a $14 million qualifying offer or test the market as a restricted free agent. However, based on his dad’s latest comments, it doesn’t sound like Lonzo likes playing for Stan van Gundy, which could prompt a team like the Raptors to trade for him.
In an interview with ESPN710 Los Angeles, LaVar claimed that Lonzo “can’t stay in New Orleans”, once again igniting the trade rumors that could end his eldest son’s time in the Big East prematurely.
“Lonzo has always been a playmaker,” Ball said. “Why are you trying to change him into a defensive specialist to stay in the corner and shoot 3s? You’re trying to change Zion and Brandon Ingram, who all throughout their career have never been playmakers? They’re scorers. Now you want to put the ball in their hand? C’mon man.”
Could LaVar Ball and his mouth get Lonzo Ball to the Toronto Raptors?
Ball’s rebounding and assist numbers are as low as they’ve ever been in his career, but he’s averaging a career-high 14.2 points per game. Ball is shooting a career-best 42.5% from the floor and 39% from deep, all while making more 3-pointers than Trae Young, Luka Doncic, Bradley Beal, and LeBron James.
Still, the Pelicans find themselves on the outside looking in with regards to the postseason, and they’ve hitched their wagon to the Williamson/Ingram partnership. If the Raptors are willing to send a good chunk of their depth and/or one mid-level salary to the Pelicans, Ball could be Nick Nurse’s newest point guard.
With Kyle Lowry coming off of the books this offseason, and Toronto in need of a point guard that can shoulder the load on both ends of the court, Ball makes a ton of sense from a schematic point of view. Given his contract situation, the Raptors might be able to steal him from the Pelicans for a relative discount.
In terms of nightlife and opportunities for a 23-year-old to get the most fun out of life, New Orleans is several tiers above Toronto. It’s even a few tiers above Tampa, Ybor City notwithstanding. However, the Raptors have money to spend and a potential hole at point guard, and Ball might find playing in Canada more suitable to his needs.