NBA free agency begins on Monday, August 2 at 6 pm ET, and the Bulls should be among the first teams active, and potentially coming to an agreement with players on free-agent deals.
The Bulls Are Interested, and So is Lonzo
Ball, a restricted free agent, is expected to be at the top of the Bulls’ wish list. According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, Chicago is prepared to offer the former No. 2 overall pick $20 million per season to be their starting point guard.
For the Bulls, there’s believed to be mutual interest with Lonzo Ball on a four-year deal worth over $80 million. If the Pelicans do not renounce Ball, that agreement would have to come via an offer sheet, which New Orleans would have the option to match.
Because the Pelicans can match, the Bulls’ pursuit of Ball could be complicated. If the Pelicans wait the full 7 days to decide if they will match the offer for Ball, it could hinder Chicago’s plans to retool a roster that missed the postseason this past campaign, despite a huge trade deadline deal that brought in Nikola Vucevic from the Orlando Magic.
There is a way the Pelicans could make things much easier on the Bulls, and that’s by simply renouncing their rights to Ball, thereby not matching Chicago’s offer or waiting the full term to announce the decision.
Why the New Orleans Pelicans May Not Match
According to Fischer, the Pelicans appear to be in hot pursuit of unrestricted free agent and All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry. Fischer wrote:
Multiple cap analysts around the league have also told B/R that New Orleans can clear upward of $36 million to offer Lowry by renouncing both Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart. By just renouncing Ball, the Pelicans could offer roughly three years, $100 million.
If the Pelicans can bring in Lowry to play with Zion Williamson and perhaps Brandon Ingram–if he isn’t traded–New Orleans is hoping to capture some of the magic the Phoenix Suns enjoyed when they acquired Chris Paul ahead of last season.
Williamson may need to play with a veteran point guard in order to reach his potential, and there is a belief Lowry could represent that sort of presence for him and the rest of the Pelicans’ young roster.
F the Bulls get Ball, they will have secured their starter alongside Zach LaVine in the backcourt. Together with Vucevic and what Chicago hopes is a fast-improving Patrick Williams, the Bulls may finally be able to return to the playoffs.
Ball is still just 23 years old.
He doesn’t turn 24 until October, so there is a ton of upside, and he has already improved his shooting numbers with career-best performances from the field (.414), three-point range (.378) and the free-throw line (.781). When you look at his rebounding (4.8 rpg) assists (5.7 apg), steals (1.5) and his relatively low-turnover totals (2.2 topg), he looks like a strong fit at point guard in Chicago.