Chicago’s Lonzo Ball stans got some good news Tuesday morning.
According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the New Orleans Pelicans are not expected to match a significant offer sheet to the 23-year-old restricted free agent this summer. The Chicago Bulls were also, once again, named as a team expected to pursue Ball, with the Los Angeles Clippers also included in the mix.
New Orleans is unlikely to match a significant offer sheet on Ball, sources said. Ball, 23, is among the top point guards on the free-agent market. The Bulls and Clippers are expected to be among the teams interested in him, according to sources. Ball averaged career-highs in points (14.6) and 3-point shooting (37.8) this past season.
We have known of the Bulls’ interest in Ball since the trade deadline. The organization reportedly made the Pelicans an offer, but the team’s reluctance to include more significant compensation stalled talks. Part of that reluctance was likely due to Ball’s expiring contract. While Arturas Karnisovas and Co. knew the Pelicans could match any contract sheet thrown Ball’s way this offseason, they also knew there was an opportunity to grab Ball without giving up any assets at all. According to Charania’s report, not fearing the first may have now strongly worked in the Bulls’ favor.
Previous reports suggested that Chicago could seek out a sign-and-trade with the Pelicans for Ball’s services this summer. Approaching things from that route still might be the smartest move financially, and it could also give the Bulls a clear leg up in negotiations since they would at least offer the Pelicans something in return. However, that something also takes a hit when information likes this drips down the pipe. Why spend time negotiating if you know the Pelicans will not block your offer?
How the Bulls want to approach Ball’s free agency is not the only conversation that needs to happen behind closed doors. The front office will need to keep in mind the competition, which now includes the Clippers. We have also previously heard that the New York Knicks are highly considering their own run at Ball. And the expectation should be that these will not be the only two teams monitoring Ball’s situation, which means we could see a bidding war unfold. In my opinion, Ball’s value sits somewhere in the $17-18 million range, but that price could easily climb higher the more teams get involved. How high is too high for Chicago?
While the Bulls should be able to outbid a team like the Los Angeles Clippers, they would stand little chance against a hungry Knicks franchise (expected to have roughly $50 million in cap space this offseason). With free agency is less than a month away, I expect we will begin to see a clear idea of just how much money Ball is expected to net in free agency. Not to mention, exactly who else could give the Bulls a run for their money.
For more on Ball, check this out:
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) May 18, 2021
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) April 15, 2021