LaMelo Ball has agreed to a five-year designated max contract extension with the Charlotte Hornets worth up to $260 million, with The Athletic reporting as much earlier this month.

The 21-year-old, the third overall pick of the 2020 NBA Draft, only played 36 games last season after fracturing his right ankle. He averaged 23.3 points, 8.4 assists and 6.4 rebounds a game in 2022/23, shooting 41.1 percent from the field and 37.6 percent from three.

The deal marks the first significant contract for the franchise since Michael Jordan agreed to sell his majority ownership share to minority owners Gabe Plotkin and Rick Schnall. MJ is set to earn a reported $3 billion from the sale.

While they’re set to pay Ball a lot of money, the Hornets’ accounts still look great as they’re still several million below next year’s projected salary cap, as well as below the tax. That’s even after agreeing to a one-year deal to bring Miles Bridges back, while they’re still to sign P.J. Washington.

Ball is expected to make $37.4 million next season, though the exact amount won’t be known until July 1, after the release of the new cap figure for 2024/25. It will be 25 percent of whatever the cap is set at. Ball will make the aforementioned sum or a bit less if the maximum allowable cap raise of 10 percent comes through.

That would only change if he qualifies for a supermax extension by making one of the All-NBA teams this coming season and makes 30 percent of the cap. That would take the total value of the deal from $217 million to $260 million.

The deal makes sense for the Hornets. LaMelo has led the folks in Charlotte to believe he will remain loyal as he seems turned off by the idea of players trying to force themselves off teams. He was keen on signing an extension.

He played 75 games for the team the season before last and helped them get to the Play-In tournament, averaging 20.1 points and 7.6 assists. That had probably already convinced the team to sign him to an extension even before he played in 36 games last season.

While Ball put up even better numbers last term, he wasn’t available a whole lot. Still, it wouldn’t have made a difference if he’d played zero games.

The Hornets would do well to keep him in Charlotte for as long as they can given that he’s proven he has what it takes to excel at the highest level. Although he’s missed a lot of games over the past two seasons, he’s still 21 with what could be a long career ahead of him.

Considering the upcoming sportsbooks promos in North Carolina, times could get exciting for would-be bettors in Charlotte, particularly with LaMelo’s promising future and the drafting of another highly-vaunted player.

With 150/1 odds now going on the Hornets winning the Eastern Conference, it would take the most daring of supporters to place a wager on Charlotte even with the low risk. But a healthy Lamelo can certainly make a difference.

While an extension hardly means someone won’t request a trade in a year’s time, it’s clear that the player wants to be in Charlotte and it would be hard to argue with the team’s decision to pay him the sum noted above especially when you consider the fact that he’s already made an All-Star team and was the Rookie of the Year in 2021.

The Hornets have since drafted forward Brandon Miller, taking him second overall this year, and it will be interesting to see what the two players can do together.

It appears the pair are becoming fast friends as Miller revealed having conversations with his teammate even before he was a Hornet.

“[LaMelo] was texting me the whole draft, you know, the whole night. Just telling me, ‘You’re a Hornet, you’re a Hornet.’ I’m like, ‘We’re gonna see,’ you know because the talk was Scoot and me,” Miller said on Podcast P with Paul George (H/T “I think after the draft I went to the back [and] called him. He was just laughing, you know, just telling me — Just really welcoming.”

The new Charlotte player also told his hosts that LaMelo has attended some Summer League workouts, though he isn’t practicing with the players.

Should Miller live up to his reputation and Ball have a healthy season, fans could see the Hornets back in the playoffs as early as next term. It’s going to take some doing, but the guard has shown that he can impact the team’s fortunes in the best way once he’s available.