The Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans are reportedly (and finally) speaking to each other. One party who doesn’t seem particularly thrilled with that development in the story seems to be Lonzo Ball, or someone in his camp.
As everyone in the NBA was reeling following Kristaps Porzingis being sent to Dallas,
LaVar Ball texted every single reporter he has stored in his phone someone from Ball’s camp reiterated his concern about winding up in the Big Easy. Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times was the first to relay the message.
After learning of the Lakers’ offers to the Pelicans, Lonzo Ball’s camp maintains that New Orleans isn’t the desired destination. Phoenix makes the most basketball sense if Ball were to be traded and according to two sources there is mutual interest.— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) January 31, 2019
I’d like to start with a question to Ball and his camp: What’s the problem with New Orleans? As a city, it’s one of the most delightful places in the United States. As a basketball fit, he and Jrue Holiday are great right now and in all likelihood, Holiday is probably going to be a part of New Orleans’ impending fire sale. So either Ball has a really good backcourt mate or he’ll have the backcourt to himself soon anyway.
But if he really wants to voluntarily live in Phoenix, Ball alongside Devin Booker solves a lot of the issues in both their games. Ball can defend opposing teams’ best ball-handler and Booker’s ability to shoot can help with spacing issues whenever Ball goes through any of his cold streaks. So between these two destinations, there isn’t really a wrong answer for Lonzo.
The question that’s altogether more pressing here is whether Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka care even a little bit about these trade demands, especially after the LaVar’s behavior from the outset of Lonzo’s tenure as a Laker. To be fair, LaVar has been very quiet as of late and never said anything all that inflammatory, but still, it’s not out of line to say that he was a nuisance over the course of Ball’s rookie season.
More important than how the front office and organization might feel about LaVar, however, is where their priorities currently stand. If New Orleans wants Lonzo in return for Davis, they’re getting Lonzo. That’s just how things are going to go. If New Orleans values something that Phoenix might be more willing to offer (say, a higher draft pick than the Pelicans receive from the Lakers), then that changes the situation.
For now, the absolute top priority is to get Davis out of New Orleans and to his reportedly preferred destination. Everything beyond that is secondary.