The New Orleans Pelicans were mulling over whether or not they should proceed with Stan Van Gundy as their head coach, ultimately deciding to fire him after one NBA season at the helm.
After making a decision on Van Gundy, the Pelicans are now tasked with figuring out what they want to do with Lonzo Ball. Ball is a restricted free agent this summer, meaning that New Orleans could match any offer that is extended to him.
Amid their decision-making process, the Pelicans have to ask themselves if Ball fits their long-term plans alongside Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram (even though Ingram has been mentioned in NBA trade rumors recently).
Ball just finished the best year of his career from an offensive standpoint, notching 14.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 5.7 assists on 37.8 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
Instead of matching any offer for Ball, if the Pelicans don’t view him as a franchise player, then they could elect to take the sign-and-trade route. That means that New Orleans would sign Ball to a deal that another team is comfortable absorbing before they acquire him via trade.
The Pelicans appear to be all-in on pursuing Kyle Lowry in free agency after clearing the cap space to make a huge offer for him. New Orleans could look to move on from Ball as a result.
Considering that plenty of teams are searching for a point guard this offseason, here are a handful of dark-horse teams to watch as potential sign-and-trade destinations for Lonzo Ball.
Los Angeles Clippers
Over the course of the playoffs this year, the Los Angeles Clippers have to be happy with what they’ve seen from Reggie Jackson. Jackson has solidified himself as the third option on offense, and with Kawhi Leonard sidelined, he’s been asked to handle an expanded role alongside Paul George.
While he mustered up only 10.7 points per game during the regular season, Jackson is averaging 17.3 points per game, and he’s converting 42.3 percent of his three-point shots.
As good as Jackson has been in the postseason, the Clippers still need to improve at the point guard position this offseason. Ever since Leonard and George came to Los Angeles, the team has been seeking a point guard that meshes well with them.