As Chris Haynes put it on an NBA TV appearance Saturday night, a “catastrophe of a hiccup” would have to occur for Lonzo Ball not to end up in Chicago. When it comes to free agency, we can never say never, but the Bulls do seem to be at the top of the leader boards for Ball just a handful of hours before free agency officially opens.
“Lonzo Ball is still expected to sign an offer sheet with Chicago, except the Bulls require a few financial moves before they can extend him the roughly four-year, $84 million contract that’s been discussed in league circles,” Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer wrote in his latest intel post.
Those financial moves are likely centered around Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky, who we learned this morning are being dangled in the current trade market. Likewise, we have already seen the organization start to move on from some of last year’s roster members, as Ryan Arcidiacono’s team option was not picked up this weekend.
The Athletic’s Sam Amick wrote on this that a small-sample-size poll of executives tagged Chicago as the most likely landing spot for Ball when free agency begins. Co-worker John Hollinger also tied the two together by reporting on a potential complex multi-team trade that could go down between the Hornets, Pelicans, and Bulls.
Update on my update: Could very well be Lonzo and Graham in double sign-and-trade, but *NOT* with Lonzo Ball going to Charlotte. Bulls remain very much in play for Ball. Could end up a very complex transaction if this happens.
— John Hollinger (@johnhollinger) August 2, 2021
Still, as Chicago continues to be a mainstay in the Ball storyline, we have seen several other names emerge last second. The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported on draft night that both the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors could be possible suitors for Ball. The Celtics side of things gained more traction throughout the weekend, as speculation started to swirl about a possible sign-and-trade that could net the Pelicans Marcus Smart. Ball would still have to express interest in going to Boston for that to work, but it does not feel out of the question with the competitive foundation they have built. Likewise, if you’re the Pelicans front office, adding Smart would probably be more intriguing than adding a player like Tomas Satoransky.
Amick also listed Boston as a name that came up in his poll of executives, with the other being the Dallas Mavericks. Mark Cuban’s team was one of the organizations reportedly interested in Kyle Lowry. Similar to New Orleans, the franchise decided to explore other options when news dropped Sunday night that Miami was the front-runner to sign the veteran point guard, per Marc Stein.
Meanwhile, the Pacers were thrown into Hollinger’s latest articles as a potential darkhorse candidate.
As the clock nears 5:00 p.m. CT, these will have to be the teams we keep an eye on. I’m comfortable with Chicago’s current position in the race for Ball, but we truly can not rule anything out until the Woj bomb hits our timeline.