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Lonzo Ball could move on from Pelicans in free agency

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Plus, New Orleans is in the final stages of hiring Willie Green as their next head coach

NBA: Golden State Warriors at New Orleans Pelicans Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

It appears that the New Orleans Pelicans have drawn somewhat of a line in the sand when it comes to restricted free agent point guard Lonzo Ball.

That’s according to a report by NBA Insider for The Athletic, Shams Charania.

New Orleans is unlikely to match a significant offer sheet on Ball, sources said. Ball, 23, is among the top point guards on the free-agent market.

Charania also reports that the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Clippers have shown interest in acquiring the 23-year-old point guard.

Both Chicago and Los Angeles have needs at the point guard position.

Chicago has long been linked to Ball, as speculation grew that Lonzo was a trade target of the Bulls prior to this past season’s deadline.

The Clippers got plenty of points out of Reggie Jackson this postseason, but he’s a free agent and will be looking for a hefty raise. Patrick Beverly remains an impactful defender, but he isn’t capable of running an offense. That leaves soon-to-be 35-year old Rajon Rondo as the only other veteran point on the roster.

In Chicago, the search for someone to reduce Zach LaVine’s ball-handling workload continues. Coby White just finished his second year, posting career-highs in points, rebounds, and assists, after making 54 starts for the Bulls, but his shooting numbers aren’t as strong as Ball’s and he has farther to go defensively.

Over 55 games this season, Lonzo set career-highs in points per game (14.6), three-point shooting (.378), and three-pointers made per game (3.1), while averaging better than five assists and 1.5 steals per night. He and Toronto’s Fred Van Vleet were the only two players to reach those marks during the 2020-21 regular season.

Both teams are currently well over the salary cap, so any deal would have to be some sort of sign-and-trade.

Then the question becomes, what assets would be favorable enough for the Pelicans to accept in return?

The decision to retain or move on from Lonzo Ball remains the biggest domino, from a player personnel perspective, needing to fall for the 2021-22 Pelicans to begin to take shape.

Charania also reported that former New Orleans Hornet and current Phoenix Suns assistant coach Willie Green will soon be named the next head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Pelicans are planning to hire Suns assistant Willie Green as their new head coach, sources said. New Orleans and Green, who is still coaching in the NBA Finals, are working through the final stages of the process, sources said.

If hired, Green would become the eighth head coach in franchise history, and the fourth former NBA player to take the lead chair since the team moved to New Orleans in 2002.

On the draft front, Charania said that the Pelicans have been impressed by Villanova forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl.

Robinson-Earl, a 6-9 sophomore, averaged 15.7 points and 8.5 rebounds this past season for the Wildcats on his way to being named Big East Player of the Year. He collected 17 double-doubles in his 56 career games, and has been rising on draft boards as of late.

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