There are good reasons why a Lakers and Lonzo Ball reunion are unlikely this summer, including Ball preferring not to return to the team that traded him and the Lakers not wanting to be hardcapped due to a sign-and-trade.
But there are also compelling reasons why Lonzo Ball today could be the perfect point guard to complement LeBron James and Anthony Davis and a better option as a playmaker, shooter, and defender than Dennis Schroder. Lonzo is also a better complement for 20-year old Talen Horton-Tucker, whom the Lakers project as part of their backcourt of the future who needs to be paired with a guard who can shoot the three and take care of the ball.
The 23-year old 6' 6" Ball shoots 38.4% on 8.1 threes and makes 5.7 assists to 2.0 turnovers per game whereas the 27-year old 6' 3" Schroder only shoots 34.1% on just 3.3 threes and averages 5.4 assists to 2.8 turnovers per game. The younger and bigger Ball also has greater upside as a player and is more versatile as defender than the older and smaller Schroder. Ball averages 0.6 blocks and 1.4 steals per game vs. 0.2 blocks and 1.2 steals for Schroder.
Like Schroder, Ball is going to be looking for a big raise in free agency this summer. He knows his days in New Orleans are over and because he’ll be a restricted free agent, the Pelicans will be looking to sign-and-trade him. Spending more than $20 million for Lonzo Ball, even though it would hard cap them, would be a smarter move than spending that much for Dennis Schroder, who’s nowhere near as good a fit for what the Lakers need.
But there may be strong competition for Ball, who’s dramatically improved his shooting over the last two years. He’s not only become an elite high volume 3-point shooter but is now also shooting almost 80% from the line. With Zion dominating the ball for the Pelicans as a point forward, Lonzo has learned to thrive off the ball, becoming a true 3&D guard whom the Pelicans would like to keep but not at the cost of going into the luxury tax.
Should Lonzo be interested, the Lakers should jump at the opportunity. They could move some of their long term salary commitments to open up space under the hard cap to give Horton-Tucker and Caruso deserved raises. The Pelicans might be receptive to receiving Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in return for Lonzo Ball. Kuzma and KCP are both young, proven, championship quality rotation players on team friendly contracts.
A sign-and-trade with the Pelicans for Lonzo Ball on a 4-year deal starting at $20 million for Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s combined $26 million per year would end up saving the Lakers $6 million salary per year. Lonzo Ball would become the starting point guard and Talen Horton-Tucker the starting shooting guard, giving the Los Angeles Lakers a dynamic young backcourt of the future to complement LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
As for being hardcapped again, there’s a sense from writers following the Lakers like Eric Pincus the Lakers might welcome financial constraints to prevent them from overspending and incurring stratospheric luxury taxes. There was talk from Woj and other pundits that the Lakers were looking for ways to get out of some of their future commitments to create flexibility this summer to re-sign their own free agents Horton-Tucker and Caruso.
Another wrinkle of a Lonzo Ball and Lakers reunion is Ball’s agent is now Rich Paul of Klutch Sports. It’s no secret Rob Pelinka and Rich Paul have a history of making moves to mutually benefit the Lakers and Klutch clients. There’s something karmic about Lonzo signing with the player agent who engineered his trade to New Orleans. What better story than the prodigal son returning to lead the team that drafted him to more championships.
At 23, Lonzo has become his own man, no longer tethered to the whims and opinions of a dominant father. He’s put his career in the capable hands of Rich Paul and worked hard to become a better and more valuable player. While New York is tempting, Rich Paul surely knows the best landing spot for Lonzo Ball and his career would be back at Staples next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis. He’s the perfect point guard for the LA Lakers.
Temporarily overshadowed by his younger brother LaMelo’s sensational rookie season, Lonzo has an opportunity to return to Los Angeles, rejoin LeBron, and become the first Ball brother to win an NBA championship.
If you enjoyed this article and would like to share your ideas and comments with other informed Lakers fans, please join us to discuss on Lakerholics.Com.