Lonzo Ball’s name was tossed around in trade rumors for quite some time, with supporting evidence to back up the claim making it more than just meaningless rumor talk. When the trade deadline came and went on Thursday, Ball was still in New Orleans as the Pelicans had opted not to trade him after reported talks with plenty of teams including the Bulls, Knicks, Clippers and more.

Ball was obviously well aware of the whispers and now that he knows he will be in New Orleans through the rest of the season, he’s saying all the right things.

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What Lonzo Ball said is expected. The Pelicans didn’t trade him, it would be wild if he had said after that, “Yea I don’t want to be here anymore though.” Not exactly good for team morale if he had chosen that route. So Ball made the smart move here. Of course he’s going to say he wants to be with the Pelicans after they didn’t trade him.

The real intrigue with Ball’s situation will come in the offseason. He is set to be an unrestricted free agent and will have plenty of suitors. With teams like the Knicks showing tons of interest at the deadline, they will likely pursue Ball this offseason with plenty of room in their pockets to fork over cash. Whether or not New Orleans will match a lucrative offer that he could potentially receive is where the chess match could begin.

Lonzo Ball is in the middle of arguably his best season in the association, averaging 14.2 points per game to go along with 5.6 assists and 4.2 rebounds per contest.