Pelicans do not expect Lonzo Ball to return?

The New Orleans Pelicans may be pre-packing Lonzo Ball’s bags for him.

Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported on Tuesday about New Orleans’ negotiations with Jacque Vaughn as their potential next head coach. Fischer notes that, during a dinner with Vaughn, Pelicans executive David Griffin pitched his vision for a starting backcourt of Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Kira Lewis as well as his ideas for how to fill out Vaughn’s entire coaching staff. These negotiations reportedly led to Vaughn removing his name from consideration for the New Orleans job. Fischer adds that Griffin has wielded significant influence in New Orleans in areas such as minutes and skill development, primarily with players he has drafted.

One player that Griffin notably did not draft is Ball, who was acquired in the 2019 trade for Anthony Davis. Ball will also be a restricted free agent this offseason and has essentially been a full-time starter for his entire career.

The Pelicans tabbed Phoenix Suns assistant Willie Green to be their next coach instead. But if Griffin indeed wants a starting backcourt of Alexander-Walker and Lewis, both of whom he drafted, the team could easily let Ball walk in free agency. One rival in particular may be hoping for exactly that.