There is officially no more denying the smoke around the Chicago Bulls and Lonzo Ball. According to Charania, the team is among those interested in Ball’s services. HOWEVER, the two sides have reportedly not yet spoken about a possible deal.
“Among the teams that has interest in Lonzo Ball and could pursue him: The Bulls, sources said. The sides so far have not had dialogue, per sources. Ball, 23, represents a starting point guard who is entering restricted free agency in the offseason. Ball, a two-way guard, has averaged 13.4 points, 4.7 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game while shooting 37.8 percent from 3-point range.”
While no other report directly referenced whether or not the Bulls and Pelicans were in active talks, it is significant that Charania stated it explicitly. This could tell us that the Bulls are, indeed, considering a different answer at point guard, but are also willing to keep Coby White’s leash long, at least for now. I think at least part of that could be due to the team’s unfortunate COVID and injury luck to start the season. As noted the other day, White has been in charge of seven different starting lineup combinations over the team’s first 25 games. For a second-year guard trying to play his way through the position, that isn’t the best hand to be dealt.
The other part of the team’s hesitation to pursue Ball could be the cost. With several of the Bulls veterans playing well thus far, I have to imagine there is an ongoing discussion behind the scenes about how best to move pieces around before the trade deadline. The Bulls may be sitting in the 11th spot in the Eastern Conference, but they’re just one game back from the 8th seed. So while I don’t believe that a possible playoff or play-in tournament berth would push the front office away from making any deals (I think the vision is far more long-term than that), I do think they might be a bit more careful about who and what they are getting in return for their trade chips.
Of course, that isn’t to say Ball should not be considered a worthy return. The fact that he is headed toward restricted free agency this summer might hurt his value, but the team that does trade for him will have complete control of his future with the right to match any offer sheet. Not to mention, they will still be adding a relatively promising (and at least serviceable) 23-year-old point guard in the interim.
With the Bulls interest in Ball seemingly legitimate, it might be only a matter of time before we hear that talks are very much underway. Both sides could just be waiting until closer to the trade deadline (March 25th), to get a better feel for how their team is progressing and what other options might arise on the market. After all, neither team would want to pull the trigger too early only to realize that one of their players sent away could have been used in some kind of better package. That’s always something to think about.