With the 2021 NBA Draft just days away, the league-wide rumor mill is heating up, and the Chicago Bulls are a team garnering eyes as a team to watch this offseason.
After acquiring Nikola Vucevic at last season’s trade deadline, teams are monitoring whether or not Arturas Karnisovas and company can land a third star.
As far as names available, the NBA’s trade market is heating up. All of Ben Simmons, Bradley Beal, and Damian Lillard have been featured in recent weeks.
But it seems those kinds of names may be out of reach for the Bulls, who’ll have to work hard to navigate the cap space it would take to add a near-max player.
That doesn’t mean Chicago won’t land a big name. In fact, rumors featuring a fan-favorite ending up in the Windy City are heating up once again: New Orleans Pelicans point guard Lonzo Ball.
The 23-year old averaged 14.6 points, 5.7 assists, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.5 steals in 55 appearances last season.
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The Chicago Bulls weren’t mentioned as much as fans would likely enjoy, but they were once again tied to the one name they’ve been consistently tied to seemingly for the last year: Lonzo Ball.
When it came to the restricted free agent, Wojnarowski had this much to say about the guard:
I think in a perfect world, for both Lonzo Ball and the Chicago Bulls, they end up together. But as you said it is restricted free agency, which means the Pelicans can match an offer, an offer sheet, from Chicago. They could also work a sign-and-trade and get some assets, or let him go.
The longtime insider went on to note that New Orleans’s desire to get in on the Kyle Lowry sweepstakes could ultimately lead them to let Ball walk, whether to Chicago or elsewhere:
Remember, we know New Orleans would like to get involved with Kyle Lowry, and there’s a sense, perhaps I’m being resigned, that Lonzo Ball won’t be on their team next year.
If that’s the case, fans can expect the Bulls to swoop in with a top-dollar offer sheet for the point guard.
Dating back to (at least) the middle of last season, Chicago’s been in active pursuit of Ball, hoping to form a stud backcourt pairing in him and All-Star guard Zach LaVine.
Wojnarowski Confirms Mid-Season Trade Talks
As Adrian Wojnarowski confirmed on the special, the Chicago Bulls had talks with the New Orleans Pelicans about a deal for Lonzo Ball at the trade deadline:
The Bulls and Pelicans talked about Lonzo Ball at the trade deadline, I thought they kind of got close, they were dancing around it. But I think, in the end, there were was just some draft capital that the Bulls resisted putting in. Obviously, they used some picks to get Vucevic.
In regards to the framework of the deal, Lowe first commented that it was rumored to be a swap for Lauri Markkanen, which Wojnarowski followed up quickly confirming:
Lowe: “When you look at their core, they don’t have this giant Hawksy young core of guys. That’s why the Lonzo thing is so interesting to me. Are they going to be able to get him out and out in free agency? Is it going to cost them Lauri Markkanen, which is a name you barely hear anymore? But that was the rumored deal, Lonzo for Markkanen.”
Wojnarowski: “That was the deal they talked about.”
It’s unlikely that the Pelicans would take on Markkanen in any deal for Ball ahead of this week’s NBA draft before they’ve gotten the opportunity to continue reshaping their roster via other trades.
But Lonzo Ball going on the move is growing more and more likely with each day that passes.
Buckle up, Chicago Bulls fans.