The Chicago Bulls are looking for the right backcourt mate to pair with All-Star Zach LaVine, which has led to a lot of Lonzo Ball speculation heading into the trade deadline.
There have been multiple reports about Ball being on the trade block at the deadline, in part because the Pelicans don’t want to pay him as a restricted free agent this summer. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said as much on the Keyshawn, JWill, and Zubin Show on ESPN Los Angeles radio (hat tip Hoops Rumors) — and he went on to specifically mention the Chicago Bulls (a name that has come up before).
“I think there’s a sense on both sides that a new home would make sense for him… I do think that there’s a pretty good chance he moves before Thursday’s trade deadline.”
The Clippers and Knicks are interested in Ball.
But Chicago? Probably not, or at least not seriously.
For one thing, the buzz for a while has been New Orleans is seeking a first-round pick for Ball and K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago said not to expect the Bulls’ new front office to pay that price.
As of Tuesday night, based on conversations I had with various league types, the Pelicans were asking for at least a first-round pick in any Ball deal. This new regime doesn’t appear to me to be the type to be sacrificing first-round draft capital, particularly on the front end of a large project to rework the roster. But I’ve been wrong before.
Then there is the money.
Ball is reportedly seeking starter point guard money this summer, meaning a contract starting at $18 million a season. The Bulls have the cap space (Otto Porter comes off the books after this season), but they will have to pay LaVine massive money starting in 2022-23. Do the Bulls want to spend that much to lock up a Ball/LaVine backcourt? Is that much money spent leading to a massive upgrade over Coby White and LaVine? It just doesn’t seem a fit.
It’s hard to predict what direction the new Bulls’ front office will go, but a Lonzo Ball trade doesn’t seem likely.