As the 2021 NBA trade deadline quickly approaches, the New Orleans Pelicans are reportedly in discussions to deal guard Lonzo Ball, who is in line for a sizable payday this offseason. According to Bleacher Report, Chicago’s Lauri Markkanen and Denver’s Bol Bol have been included in talks with the Bulls and Nuggets, respectively.
During Tuesday’s episode of First Take on ESPN, Magic Johnson proposed a deal that would send Lonzo Ball to the New York Knicks, and also gave Ball the highest compliment about his basketball IQ.
Johnson, who was the president of basketball operations for the Lakers when Ball was drafted second overall by Los Angeles, says that no point guard in the NBA has a higher basketball IQ than Lonzo.
"There's no point guard in this league whose basketball IQ is higher than Lonzo Ball."
— ESPN (@espn) March 23, 2021
Magic Johnson: “I’m going to tell you this: there’s no guard in this league. point guard, whose basketball IQ is higher than Lonzo Ball. The IQ of Lonzo Ball is off the charts.”
Stephen A. Smith protested, and ceded that while Johnson probably knows what he’s talking about, he has other concerns about Ball’s game.
Stephen A. Smith: “I’m not going to question the IQ. I know Lonzo is smart, I know that he’s a pure point guard. My question is… when I’m questioning your assertiveness, your aggression, and your shot, I don’t need you at Madison Square Garden.”
Co-host Max Kellerman rightly questioned by Smith was calling out Ball’s shooting numbers, as Ball has steadily improved in that area, and is shooting 38.5 percent from beyond the arc and making three 3-pointers per game this season.
Smith later doubled down on his take on Twitter.