The New Orleans Pelicans had played in Staples Center earlier this season against the LA Clippers, but this was the first time Lakers fans had a chance to see Ingram, Ball and Hart since the trio was traded for Anthony Davis in June.
Ingram and Ball received a warm round of applause from the Staples Center crowd when the Pelicans’ starting lineup was introduced.
“Brought back some memories,” Ingram told reporters during the Pelicans’ morning shootaround of seeing purple and gold at Staples Center again. “That’s the team that drafted me, made my dreams come true.”
The Lakers selected Ingram second overall in 2016 and then Ball with the second pick in the 2017 draft. Kyle Kuzma and Hart also were taken late in the first round in 2017 as then-Lakers president Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka looked to rebuild their foundation around young lottery talent like Ingram and Ball.
Pelinka, though, traded Ingram, Ball, Hart and three first-round picks to New Orleans for Davis. The Lakers faced the Pelicans in New Orleans and won there 114-110 on Nov. 27, when Davis had 41 points and nine rebounds in his return.
During the first break in action Friday, the Lakers played a video welcoming back their former first-round picks, and the crowd buzzed a couple of times when Ball guarded LeBron James one-on-one or when Kuzma and Ingram were matched up one-on-one.
LaVar Ball, Lonzo’s father, also returned for the occasion, sitting in courtside seats next to Klutch Sports’ Rich Paul.