Lonzo Ball is drawing significant interest throughout the league heading into his third season, from Alvin Gentry and the Pelicans to the Bulls. The Lakers have also shown an interest in investing in their young point guard’s future by hiring Jason Kidd to help him develop, however misguided that may be.
On his end, Ball appeared to be thinking about playing for Phoenix at the trade deadline when an Anthony Davis deal seemed imminent, though Ball’s preference was always to remain in Los Angeles.
The Suns, however, haven’t been able to solve their point guard problem since about 2015, which makes Ball a desirous player to pair with their shooting guard of the future, Devin Booker. Booker has been stretched as the primary ball-handler in Phoenix, and his shooting makes him an ideal fit to play next to someone like the offensively-challenged Ball.
What the Suns would be willing to offer to obtain Ball is an open question, though a recent report indicates that despite rumors to the contrary, their lottery pick is off the table (via John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7, who is always plugged in on the Suns):
There is NO truth to this - Suns not offering #6 for Lonzo https://t.co/vCjaOobkFL— John Gambadoro (@Gambo987) June 2, 2019
Phoenix and Los Angeles reportedly had conversations about Ball as part of a Davis multi-team trade earlier this season, but those discussions didn’t progress too far. The Suns are in a good spot to select a point guard at No. 6 in this year’s draft, perhaps someone like Coby White, but that’s likely not the level of player they were hoping for when they entered the draft lottery tied for the best odds of any team.
According to a recent radio appearance from Tania Ganguli, the Lakers beat reporter for the Los Angeles Times, the Lakers have explored trading Ball in the past. Publicly, they’ve maintained confidence that he will emerge as point guard capable of leading a championship team; but that clearly doesn’t mean he’s untouchable:
“They’ve always been open to trading Lonzo, and that’s something that Lonzo’s camp has been very resistant to. As you remember, one time when he was in the discussion to be traded, it was leaked suddenly that he was having surgery. And then another time, when he was in talks with the Pelicans, suddenly his camp was putting out there that he doesn’t want to go to New Orleans (and) if he’s traded — he doesn’t want to be traded at all, but if he’s traded — he wants to go to Phoenix, and there were a couple of other teams in that too, Chicago was actually in that mix.
“I think that it’s definitely possible that he’ll be traded somewhere. So far they’ve spoken pretty highly of him, and I think that part of the reason that they want Jason Kidd here is that they think he’ll be a good influence on Lonzo in terms of what he does on the basketball court. I could see either scenario playing out.”
Given New Orleans’ previously referenced interest in Ball, it doesn’t make sense to trade him unless Los Angeles can get another asset that the Pelicans would also want in a trade. If Phoenix isn’t offering a lottery pick, nothing they could send the Lakers short of DeAndre Ayton would be worth losing the former No. 2 overall pick. Even though his second season was cut short by injury, Ball has too much value for the Lakers to think about sending him away for anything less than a star, or at least an asset that gives them a better chance to net one.