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Lonzo Ball signs with Rich Paul of Klutch Sports and sets goal of winning 2021 Most Improved Player Award

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New Orleans Pelicans v Sacramento Kings Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

According to Malika Andrews of ESPN, Lonzo Ball has gained new representation, signing with Rich Paul of Klutch Sports.

“I wanted to lead my career,” Ball told ESPN. “Picking my own representation — just solely as my decision — was step one in that process. For me, it was an easy call, and it was the right time to make that call.”

This marks Ball’s fourth agency in less than two years, his third within the last seven months.

Ball ended ties with Harrison Gaines to join Creative Artists Agency (CAA) around the time he decided to sue Alan Foster, a former co-founder of Big Baller Brand, for embezzlement. That relationship with CAA was short-lived, however, and many believe Leon Rose becoming president of the New York Knicks played a significant part in the parties going their separate ways.

Ball next joined forces with Roc Nation Sports this past April. Reportedly, he along with his brothers decided to stick together as LaMelo Ball’s agent Jermaine Jackson described it as a “family decision” to sign under Jay-Z’s Sports Management company.

Rich Paul obviously needs no introduction to fans of the New Orleans Pelicans. In addition to representing LeBron James, Anthony Davis signed with Klutch Sports in the summer following the franchise’s last playoff berth and then attempted to force a trade in the middle of the 2018-19 season, leaving a bad taste in too many mouths.

Are we in for more drama? Maybe, maybe not. Ball is due for a new contract next offseason and there might be no agent better at extracting a maximum amount of cash for clients.

J.R. Smith left CAA to join Klutch Sports in March of 2016, and then following a semi-lengthy holdout, proceeded to sign a 4-year, $57 million contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Tristan Thompson, Eric Bledsoe and Draymond Green are just several other examples of Paul extracting lucrative deals with NBA teams on behalf of his clients.

For his part, Ball is already thinking ahead to next season and has his eyes set on winning the 2021 Most Improved Player Award — on the heels of Brandon Ingram walking away with this season’s honor.

Weeks removed from a disappointing team showing in the NBA seeding games in Orlando, Florida, Ball said he was beginning his offseason training regimen Monday, which includes two-a-day sessions on the basketball court and workouts in the weight room.

Ball said his goal for next season is to make the playoffs and put himself in contention to follow in teammate Brandon Ingram’s footsteps.

“Once we get in the playoffs, we take it one game at a time,” Ball said. “For myself, I think Most Improved Player is definitely something I can get next year.”

Ball is expected to seek a maximum deal or something close to it next offseason. Whether he receives it will largely be based on his performance next season.

While he made tremendous strides in his game during the 2019-20 campaign — specifically his long range shooting (career-best 37.5 3PT%), Ball has not proven deserving of the richest of contracts. His showing in the Orlando restart of games inside the NBA bubble (7.1-point average on a woeful shooting line of 30.5 FG%, 28.1 3PT% and 55.6 FT%) displays a dire need for greater consistency and improvement in various areas of his game.

Will another season of mixed results spell for troublesome contract discussions between Rich Paul and David Griffin?

We may soon find out.

Sigh.

For more Pelicans talk, subscribe to The Bird Calls podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @OlehKosel.