According to multiple reports, star guard LaMelo Ball and the Hornets are finalizing a five-year extension that would pay him up to $260 million.
Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) 1 July 2023
JUST IN: The Charlotte Hornets are close to agreeing on a maximum five-year contract extension for LaMelo Ball. https://t.co/PSE0Ei0hRB
— Charlotte Observer (@theobserver) 1 July 2023
The Hornets are looking to retain their former All-Star and build around him after a disappointing season for both him and the team. Ball was limited to 36 games in 2022-23, but was solid overall when he did play, posting 23.3 points, 6.4 rebounds, 8.4 assists and 1.3 steals in 35.2 minutes per game.
Charlotte struggled to a 27–55 season and missed the NBA playoffs in 2021–22 after going 43–39 and making the AT&T Play-In Tournament. Ball was an All-Star that season (20.1 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 7.6 apg, 1.6 spg) and the driving force behind the Hornets’ mix as a rising team in the Eastern Conference.
The 2020–21 Kia Rookie of the Year winner, Ball was ruled out of the season on March 1 after season-ending surgery on his broken right ankle. As the Hornets near the end of their season, Ball said he hopes to be ready for training camp in September, but it remains to be seen whether he considers wearing an ankle brace going forward.
“It’s tough,” Ball said in late March. “I mean it would probably be painful to go through, but I’m still alive and things like that, so you can’t really get too mad. Just go through rehab, go through that whole process and try to come out on top.
In mid-June, Michael Jordan, the majority owner of the Hornets, announced that he was selling his stake in the team. The sale price was not immediately announced; ESPN cited sources as saying that the franchise is being valued at $3 billion. The most recent sale of an NBA team occurred when Matt Ishbia purchased the Phoenix Suns, a deal that valued the franchise at $4 billion when it closed in December.
The Hornets had playoff hopes this season, but a series of injuries to key players such as Ball, Gordon Hayward, Cody Martin and Kelly Oubre Jr. over the summer ruined the team’s season.
When on the court, Ball showed that he was ready to take the next step in his progression after reaching the All-Star Game last season. With his statistics in 2022-23, he became the second youngest player in NBA history behind only LeBron James to record 1,000 points, assists and rebounds.
It’s also been a tough year for Ball’s older brother, Lonzo.
The Chicago Bulls point guard hasn’t played in over a year and a half because of a left knee injury. Team president Arturas Karnisovas said in June that the team did not expect him to play in 2023-24 at all.
This report used information from The Associated Press.