So depleted that Dennis Schröder is being featured in network promos, the Lakers nonetheless remain the biggest draw in the NBA. The shorthanded Lakers’ surprising rout of the Nets averaged a 1.2 rating and 2.02 million viewers on ABC’s NBA Saturday Primetime last weekend, the league’s largest audience — excluding the All-Star Game — since February 21 (Celtics-Pelicans: 1.4, 2.26M). The team’s subsequent national TV appearance against the Celtics scored 1.14 million viewers on TNT Thursday night, the network’s most-watched game in more than a month (3/11 Warriors-Clippers: 1.25M).
Storyline: TV Ratings
The Pelicans have expressed interest in keeping Ball. When extension talks broke down before the season, the front office pointed toward Ingram, who also didn’t reach an extension with the Pelicans going into the final year of his rookie contract. He subsequently had a breakout season that led to a Most Improved Player Award and then a maximum contract. The idea was that if Ball likewise had a strong season, the organization would follow suit.
Teams in need of a point guard are preparing for Ball in free agency even with the Pelicans owning matching rights. New Orleans has only $91 million on its books for next season, giving the team cap space and plenty of room under the tax line. But Josh Hart, who has also been proficient playing alongside Williamson, will also be a restricted free agent — and likely will be a more cost-efficient option than Ball. Attempts to move Eric Bledsoe, who is owed $18 million next year, haven’t been successful.