When the NBA trade deadline came and went last Thursday, one of the bigger names thought to be available stayed put as New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball wasn't dealt.
Ball, who is in the final year of his rookie deal and will be a restricted free agent in the summer, sat the two games prior to the deadline because of a right hip flexor strain, further fueling speculation that he'd played his last game for the Pelicans.
"It was definitely in my mind. I was prepared for anything. I know a lot of people were calling," Ball told reporters Wednesday, his first time speaking since the deadline. "But ultimately, what happened was supposed to happen and I'm where I'm supposed to be at."
Ball said he is "happy to be" in New Orleans and is optimistic about the team's future.
"I'm just comfortable here," Ball said. "I also love playing with [Zion Williamson] and [Brandon Ingram]. We have a lot of young guys. I think we can be good in the time coming."
While he's missed five games with the hip injury, Ball isn't sure when he'll return to the court. He did not fully practice Wednesday but did do conditioning drills. Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy said Ball got shots up but did not go through team drills.
"I mean, it's a minor setback," Ball said. "Obviously I want to be out there. But hip flexor, I don't wanna play with that. I want to wait until I'm comfortable to get on the court and moving [fluidly]. After that, I'm ready to go and I'll get out there and do what I'm supposed to do."
Ball added that he's focused on staying in the moment and he'll worry about his restricted free agency at a later date.
"I'm trying to get back on the court as fast as possible and make the playoffs," Ball said. "That's all I'm worried about. I think about the summer when the summer comes. But right now, it's just about getting back on the court and playing."