Lonzo would be a great fit for the Nuggets
According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the Denver Nuggets have “shown interest” in New Orleans Pelicans’ guard Lonzo Ball. Windhorst appeared on The Jump yesterday and had this to say (Lonzo Ball talk begins at 7:00 minute mark):
It’s just TWO DAYS UNTIL THE TRADE DEADLINE, and @WindhorstESPN has the latest on the Aaron Gordon sweepstakes, what the #Lakers will do in the wake of LeBron’s injury and whether Lonzo Ball is on the move. pic.twitter.com/ffbwk2pvVp
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) March 24, 2021
This isn’t the first time we are hearing rumblings about the Nuggets and Pelicans, as earlier there was rumor involving wing J.J. Redick. Whlle Redick would provide basically one thing only in his three-point shooting, Lonzo Ball is a completely different story. Ball has transformed into a legitimate two-way player who is playing some of the best basketball of his career, averaging 14.2 points and shooting 38.5% from three. His intangibles are what really set him apart, though. He is a borderline elite perimeter defender, which has to be really attractive to Denver, and he has one of the best IQ’s in the game (if Magic Johnson say so, it has to be true, right?)
Playing Ball at guard alongside Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr. and Nikola Jokic would be about as good as it can get for the Nuggets. That offense would flow like milk and honey and with Ball shoring up the guard containment the team could really go to the next level.
All nice things come at a cost. As Windhorst details, the Pel’s asking price appears to be a first round pick and a younger prospect. This shouldn’t really be an issue from Denver’s side, as they have the 2021 first rounder at disposition and quite a few prospects to boot like Bol Bol, R.J. Hampton or Zeke Nnaji. Whether New Orleans is actually interested in any of those guys is unknown but for what it’s worth in the 2020 draft the Pelicans picked 13th and passed over both Hampton and Nnaji.
The other consideration is Lonzo’s current contract. He’s set to be a restricted free agent this summer with a $14.4 million price tag which isn’t unbearable in itself, but as Sam Amick of The Athletic reported yesterday, Ball is looking for “approximately $20 million annually on his next deal.” Adding a $20 million contract to Nikola Jokic’s, Jamal Murray’s and presumably Michael Porter Jr.’s extension when it comes up this offseason would leave Denver with little wiggle room to fill out the roster.
Would it be worth it? There’s a reason Ball is a hot name in this trade market; he would improve any contender instantly, not just the Nuggets. For Denver, I think the answer is a resounding “yes!” especially at the rumored asking price but I’m also not the one who has to balance the budget. I’m also not convinced that one first rounder, a prospect and salary filler will actually be all it takes to get New Orleans to bite. Ball would be a solid long-term piece alongside Zion Williamson if they are willing to pay him what he wants, and I could see them trying to extract as much value as possible.
Stay tuned into Denver Stiffs for all of this week’s rumors and updates.