If you’re done with all the Lonzo Ball rumors … too bad. Even if the Bulls do not acquire the 23-year-old point by tomorrow’s 2:00 p.m. CT deadline, the ties between the two likely aren’t going anywhere.
Much like Lauri Markkanen’s current situation in Chicago, Ball failed to reach a contract extension with his organization this summer. Teams around the league will now be able to make a run for him in the coming months as he hits restricted free agency. New Orleans, of course, will have the right to match any contract thrown his way, but their willingness to take offers right now sure makes it seem like they’re not particularly interested in paying him the kind of money they expect other teams to offer.
With that in mind, it feels kind of silly to pay what the Pelicans are asking for, which has been widely rumored as a first-rounder and a young talent. Sure, trading for him now would give that organization full control of Ball’s offseason situation, but you’re still risking assets you could avoid losing in the first place. All of this to say that landing on a deal before tomorrow could be pretty difficult, however, it wouldn’t be the Bulls and Pelicans last opportunity to negotiate something that can benefit both parties.
According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, New Orleans could already be thinking about their sign-and-trade options this summer (emphasis mine).
Teams like the Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls, and even Denver Nuggets have shown interest and offers. But Griffin’s price is high, he’s looking for a first-round pick and another player – preferably a young prospect. Does that standard get met by Thursday? I don’t know, but he will be a restricted free agent, and it’s possible this could be laying the groundwork for a sign-and-trade over the summer, especially potentially with the Chicago Bulls.
The Bulls could very well have the cap space to take a swing at Ball, but I guess Windhorst is implying that since negotiations have started this far in advance, it could be easy to eventually find an outcome that leaves everyone happy.
On a broader note, I think Windhorst even mentioning this could hint that trade talks have struggled to truly get off the ground. Perhaps the two sides are starting to feel like a deal will not get done by tomorrow’s deadline, and thus are starting to think further down the road.
But, alas, there is still always hope when it comes to the deadline! ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said he believes there is a pretty good chance Ball is moved before tomorrow on Keyshawn, JWill, and Zubin this morning, and the Bulls remain a team to watch.
Chicago is a team to watch here. They need a point guard. I think from Ball’s side it’s a place with some young talent – Zach LaVine, a group in Chicago under Billy Donovan that you have seen grow this year in his first season as coach. Philadelphia has reached out. They have been in the market for a point guard, but I think Philly is more of a long shot for Lonzo Ball. But I do think there is a pretty good chance he move before Thursday’s trade deadline. There have, again, been talks with the Bulls and that’s certainly going to be one to watch.
The clock is ticking!