With the Chicago Bulls’ playoff window closing more and more each day, fans and executives alike are looking to the offseason, and how the front office will be able to upgrade this roster ahead of 2021-2022.
And after a failed pursuit of Lonzo Ball at the trade deadline, it appears they’ll explore that route again in free agency.
The 23-year old point guard is averaging 14.2 points, 5.8 assists, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game this year for an underwhelming New Orleans Pelicans team, projected to miss the playoffs for the third straight season.
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Ball Market is Still Active
Over a month removed from the trade deadline, teams are still keeping their fingers on the pulse of all things Lonzo Ball.
As he is a restricted free agency this offseason, there are a number of reasons to doubt the New Orleans Pelicans can keep him in house.
NBA Insider and Senior Writer for The Athletic Sam Amick noted their current payroll as the largest:
With Brandon Ingram already on a max deal through 2025 and Williamson bound for a max extension of his own in the 2022 offseason, the prospect of paying Ball on a long-term deal around $20 million annually gets a bit problematic — especially considering the big money that’s already on the Pelicans’ books beyond the young core.
With that in mind, he also provided an update on the current pool of expected suitors for Ball:
Heading into the deadline, there was a chance New Orleans could have attached one of those veteran deals in a Ball-centric trade to aid its financial landscape. Instead, the Pelicans will have to wait and see what the market bears for Ball before deciding whether to match. Chicago, Atlanta, Golden State, the Clippers and the Knicks are teams that showed interest in the past and will likely do so again.
It’s safe to say the Chicago will get another shot at landing Ball, who they likely view as the final piece of a talented core.
Not only do they have two All-Stars in Nikola Vucevic and Zach LaVine, but they’ve also got two young standouts in Coby White and Patrick Williams.
With Ball, perhaps the Bulls feel as if they could make a run in the Eastern Conference next season.
Because one thing is clear among so much uncertainty surrounding the Chicago Bulls, and that’s the desire and focus on winning basketball.
Updated Bulls Playoff Odds
After their latest loss to the New York Knicks, the Chicago Bulls drop to 26-36.
That’s good for the 11th seed in the Eastern Conference, and two games back of the 10th seed Washington Wizards.
Five Thirty Eight has the Bulls’ playoff chances at three percent.
That’s the worst odds among teams with a greater than one percent chance.
The website’s forecast heavily favors both Toronto and Washington to make the postseason, with a 10 and 13 percent odds respectively.
Elsewhere, Tankathon.com has Chicago’s remaining schedule as the fifth-toughest in the entire NBA.
So the odds are stacked against the Chicago Bulls, who’ve managed a .500 record without one of their two All-Stars.
10 games to go.