The Charlotte Hornets drafted LaMelo Ball third overall in 2020 with the intention of him being the new face of their franchise. Ball has since exceeded these expectations and has rapidly turned himself into one of the young faces of the league.
Entering the final year of his rookie contract, Ball entered this offseason eligible for an extension and on Saturday, the Hornets made a massive investment in their All-Star point guard.
Ball and the Hornets have agreed to a five-year, $260 million designated max extension that keeps him in Charlotte through the 2028-29 season, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
LaMelo Ball's rise to stardom
Every season that he has been in the league, Ball has improved as an overall scorer and playmaker with the ball in his hands. He's the orchestrator of the Hornets' offense and injuries were the only reason LaMelo did not make the All-Star Game in 2022-23 for the second consecutive season. Despite missing 46 games, Ball still managed to record 17 double-doubles and three triple-doubles.
The Hornets have been through a lot over the years and have been searching for ways to rise from the bottom of the NBA standings. Ball has laid the foundation for this organization to grow and he is just scratching the surface of what he's capable of achieving, which is why Charlotte decided to make a massive investment in his future.
While this decision likely would have been the same under Michael Jordan's leadership as the majority owner of the franchise, the new ownership group led by Gabe Plotkin and Rick Schnall had no second thoughts regarding this extension. LaMelo is currently and will be the face of the Hornets for many years to come and they truly believe they can build a strong, competitive team around him.
LaMelo Ball's fit with Hornets' future
After drafting Brandon Miller second overall in this year's draft, the Hornets are preparing to surround their star point guard with versatile, two-way talents who can help take the scoring load off of his back. Ball has been asked to do everything for the Hornets in recent years and with Miller now by his side, the All-Star guard can thrive in his role as a primary passer and playmaker.
Having cap space and a younger roster, the Hornets are still rebuilding and searching for ways to increase their potential. After signing Ball to this big extension, veterans Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier are expected to become trade options for Charlotte to explore this upcoming year.
Regardless of who the Hornets put around Ball, he will find success on the floor because of all the different ways he can positively impact the game. Despite going 13-23 with him in the lineup this past season, Ball put up All-Star-like numbers by averaging 23.3 points, 8.4 assists and 6.4 rebounds per game. He was one of seven players in the NBA to average at least 8.0 assists.
Currently recovering and working his way back from a fractured right ankle suffered at the end of February, Ball is expected to be 100 percent with no limitations for the start of training camp in September.