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In his first appearance with the media since last week’s trade deadline, Lonzo Ball revealed his thoughts on remaining in New Orleans, a place he said he wanted to be.
“I’m happy to be here,” Ball “It was a long day, an interesting day. But, overall, I ended up not getting moved and staying here where I wanted to be so it all worked out how it was supposed to.”
Ball was in the center of rumors for weeks leading up to the deadline. The Chicago Bulls were the most serious suitor for Ball but nothing of note came of their interest. It ended with Ball staying in New Orleans, a place he’s stated multiple times he wants to remain.
“I’m just comfortable here,” Ball said. “I also love playing with (Zion) and (Ingram). We have a lot of young guys and I think we can be good in the time coming.”
Following the deadline, Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin addressed the media. He, too, revealed that Ball had made it clear to him that he wants to remain in New Orleans as well.
“He loves his teammates. He’s made it very clear personally, 1-to-1, that he wants to be here. And yet, what you will read ‘This is a player who doesn’t want to be here. He’s clearly not in our plans so you should trade him for a ham sandwich.’ Well, that doesn’t make any sense when we know the actual real story behind Lonzo Ball.”
The summer will likely present the same predicament between Ball and the Pelicans. Ball is set for restricted free agency and rumors have already begun that the two sides could be far apart on negotiations.
“I just try to stay in the now,” Ball said about upcoming free agency. “I’m trying to get back on the court as fast as possible and make the playoffs. That’s all I’m worried about right now. I’ll think about the summer when the summer comes. For right now, it’s just about getting back on the court and playing.”
The present for Ball and the Pelicans has seen the fourth-year guard miss the team’s last five games with a right hip flexor strain. However, Ball appears to be close to returning to the court.
“It’s a minor setback,” Ball said. “Obviously, I want to be out there but a hip flexor (injury), I don’t want to play with that. So, I’ll wait until I’m comfortable to get on the court and moving fluently and after that, I’m ready to go and then I’ll get out there and do what I’m supposed to do.”
The Pelicans are set to play on Thursday against the Magic. Ball’s last game for New Orleans will be two weeks ago on Thursday in a loss to the Blazers.