LaMelo Ball, Hornets

Hornets needs to be a winner to keep LaMelo Ball

The Charlotte Hornets head into another NBA offseason falling short of reaching the playoffs.

However, the pressure around the franchise’s future is in star point guard LaMelo Ball’s hands as he moves toward the final year of his four-year, $35.5 million rookie contract next season.

The Hornets’ continued lack of success has put a spotlight on the possibility that Ball could leave the organization after he contract expires next summer. Charlotte is well aware of the building uncertainty as the team hasn’t made any progress toward at least being a playoff constant in Ball’s first three NBA seasons.

Granted, he missed 46 games due to ankle issues, including season-ending surgery to repair a fracture. The Hornets haven’t assembled a roster that looks like it can become a title contender anytime soon.

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Head coach Steve Clifford echoed the strong importance that Ball has placed on building a winner.

“He badly wants to win,” Clifford said via ESPN. “… When you’re at his level, there are certain expectations. You’re going to be compared to the other point guards his age that have had not incredible playoff success but have had some.

“It’s important to his career.”

Meanwhile, Ball didn’t exactly sound entirely committed just yet to extending his career in Charlotte beyond his rookie contract.


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“I love it here,” said Ball. “I can’t really tell the future. We’ll just see how it goes and go from there.”

The bottom-line factor will be on the front office putting together a roster that can achieve sustained success. Until then, Ball’s long-term future with the Hornets remains murky at best.

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