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Report: Lonzo Ball to test free agent market next offseason

Pelicans and RFA guard were unable to work out a rookie extension before this season. Ball could return to NOLA, however.

New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball talks to head coach Stan Van Gundy in the first quarter of their game against the Milwaukee Bucks at the Smoothie King Center.  Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans and G Lonzo Ball were unable to reach an agreement on an extension to his rookie contract, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Monday. So Ball is expected to test the restricted free agent market next offseason. There is optimism between the two sides that a deal could be reached after this season.

Ball is expected to be in the starting lineup all season for the Pelicans, who just hired coach Stan Van Gundy. He is expected to lead a young core featuring Ball, Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson. We also know that LaMelo Ball, Lonzo’s brother, was just drafted by the Charlotte Hornets No. 3 overall. Their father, LaVar, has stated that all three Ball brothers — LaMelo, Lonzo and LiAngelo will play together in the NBA one day. Lonzo leaving NOLA for Charlotte would be 23 of the way there.

This move makes a lot of sense for Lonzo. He can test the RFA market and potentially get a pretty sizable offer sheet as opposed to taking a team-friendly deal with the Pels. New Orleans may have difficulty matching an offer sheet for Ball knowing they’ll need to extend Williamson at some point after the next 3 seasons. The Pelicans also have a crowded back court. There’s Ball, Josh Hart, Eric Bledsoe, JJ Redick, Kira Lewis Jr. and Nickeil Alexander-Walker.

This season for the Pelicans could be big for Ball’s future as well. We aren’t 100 percent sure about his motivating factors, but if Zion, Ingram and Ball can get the team into the postseason, there’s no reason to break up a promising core like that just to play with your brother, right? How should I know.