We are seeing why the New Orleans Pelicans didn’t want to pay Lonzo Ball

Nickeil Alexander-Walker #6 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Nickeil Alexander-Walker #6 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

The New Orleans Pelicans and Lonzo Ball parted ways this offseason after they were unable to come to an agreement on an extension.

This was somewhat surprising, as many fans thought Lonzo was going to be part of the core with Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, but it didn’t work out.

Lonzo is a gifted passer and defender but wasn’t the greatest fit with the ball-dominant Williamson, so it was probably better for both sides to move on.

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But I think the Pels’ reluctance to sign Lonzo Ball long term was less about him and more about another guy on their roster: Nickeil Alexander-Walker.

New Orleans Pelicans: Nickeil Alexander-Walker will get Lonzo Ball’s pay day

The Pelicans were in a tough spot when it came to Lonzo Ball, who had not yet done enough to earn the type of deal the Bulls gave him. That’s the risk of signing a restricted free agent, as teams often have to overpay and the Bulls were happy to do so, banking on the fact that Ball has another level.

He probably does, so I am not saying it was a bad deal for the Bulls, but the Pelicans have seen enough of Nickeil Alexander-Walker to take a risk that he’ll be even better.

This is a calculated risk, as NAW has been inconsistent in his young career so far, though he has averaged more than 19 points per game as a starter.

After spending the offseason with Team Canada, NAW looks bigger, more confident and explosive, which was evident in his two preseason performances so far. He looks ready to have a breakout season for the Pelicans.

This guy has 20+ ppg scorer written all over him, which is exactly what the Pelicans need, as they have lacked a reliable third scoring option for the last two seasons.

Not only will NAW provide more scoring than Lonzo Ball, but he is under team control through next season and will likely be cheaper than Lonzo when he does sign an extension.

The Pels are not only betting that they kept the better player but that he’ll come cheaper than Lonzo, which makes him even more valuable.

When the New Orleans Pelicans chose not to re-sign Lonzo Ball, they did it with Nickeil Alexander-Walker in mind and after 41 points in his first two preseason games, it looks like they might have made the right choice.

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