When the Chicago Bulls failed to land Lonzo Ball at this season’s trade deadline – for whom they did make a push – they didn’t entirely abandon that pursuit, they simply pressed pause.
With the 23-year-old point guard headed toward restricted free agency this offseason, the organization will have another opportunity to pair him alongside Zach LaVine. The New Orleans Pelicans can, of course, match any offer thrown Ball’s way, but their willingness to hear out trades at the deadline suggests they could be plenty willing to let him walk. Another option would be a sign-and-trade deal, which ESPN’s Brian Windhorst suggested as something on the Bulls’ radar back on March 24th.
Regardless of how the Bulls pursue Ball, however, it’s clear people around the league expect that pursuit to happen. The New York Posts’ Marc Berman recently brought it up in an article, sharing that sources believe they would be a “top competitor” if the Knicks showed interest.
Though the Knicks made a very light push for Ball at the March 25 trade deadline, the Bulls did a lot more of the talking with Pelicans general manager David Griffin. If Ball were to leave, Chicago would be the Knicks’ top competitor, according to sources.
I didn’t necessarily expect the Bulls to fall out of the Ball discussion – especially after the recent performances we’ve seen – but this just further emphasizes that we should expect them to be in hot pursuit this offseason.
Likewise, it gives us a better idea of the Bulls competition. I know it feels like the Knicks have been tied to every free agent and their mother over the past few years, but they also haven’t been this good. The team has shown real promise with first-time All-Star Julius Randle and second-year guard RJ Barrett leading the way. They are currently 6th in the Eastern Conference with a legitimate chance to grab a first-round playoff series for the first time since 2013.
The Bulls might be able to sell Ball on life with two All-Stars, but the Knicks can flash more proven results. Oh, and then there is the whole cap space advantage. The Knicks are in a position to have some of the highest spending power in the league, we’re talking well over $40+ million.
The early landscape of teams that have cap space this offseason: pic.twitter.com/AbiaIcuatv
— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) March 12, 2021
So not only could the Knick potentially outbid the Bulls for Ball, but they could also have an easier time in a sign-and-trade deal. Around the deadline, there was a rumor that the Pelicans could look to get off some of their longer contracts like Steven Adams and Eric Bledsoe. With all that extra money in their pocket, the Knicks wouldn’t really have to think twice about absorbing either player if they want Ball that bad.
At the end of the day, all we can do is cross this bridge when we get there. The offseason is creeping up faster than expected, though, especially with the Bulls’ postseason chances taking an ever greater hit with the Zach LaVine news, so any Ball news will have to be something we monitor closely over the next couple of months.