Analyst Predicts Knicks Will Outbid Pelicans for Starting PG

Lonzo Ball

Getty Lonzo Ball brings the ball up the floor during a May 10 game against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Few things are more certain than the New York Knicks pending point guard chase this summer, with all of Derrick Rose, Elfrid Payton, and Frank Ntilikina headed for free agency.

And after a season that saw them make a triumphant return to the playoffs, for the first time since 2013, they’re hoping that point guard will be a stark upgrade, too.

New York’s set to be operating with north of $50+ million in cap space this summer, and with that in mind, has been linked to any and every upcoming free agent.

One name that’s reoccurring in rumors with the Knicks: New Orleans Pelicans point guard Lonzo Ball.

The fourth-year guard will be a restricted free agent following a career-best 2020-2021 season. Ball averaged 14.6 points, 5.7 assists, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.5 steals in 55 appearances for the Pelicans.

But there’s speculation mounting that New Orleans isn’t prepared to match whatever potentially lucrative offer sheets that come Ball’s way this summer.

One staff member at Bleacher Report thinks the New York Knicks could be the team to pry him out of the Big Easy.

Lonzo Ball to the Knicks?

In his latest piece for Bleacher Report, Predicting the Fates of NBA’s Top 2021 Restricted Free Agents, Grant Hughes made free agency predictions for the top-five restricted free agents.

When it came to Lonzo Ball, he predicted that the point guard will land with the New York Knicks.

Hughes cited the same aforementioned concerns surrounding the New Orleans Pelicans’ willingness to pay top dollar to retain their starting point guard.

As well as the increased pressure to build around former first overall pick Zion Williamson:

Brandon Ingram is already locked in on a max deal, Zion Williamson is sure to command max money when it’s his turn, and securing Ball on a contract that pays him north of $20 million per season could foreclose on the Pelicans’ opportunity to land a starrier name to complement Zion.

New York can offer Ball a starting salary of $28-million for the first year of his contract, a number his current team would almost be unable, as much as they may be unwilling, to match.

The Pelicans have also been suggested as a potential landing spot for disgruntled star Damian Lillard, which would certainly rule Lonzo Ball out as a participating member of their future core.

But the question still remains as to whether or not the Knicks would hedge that much of their cap space on a point guard that while certainly an upgrade, isn’t considered a top-15 player at his position.

Because above all else, they’ve got options.

Damian Lillard is New York’s ‘Top Choice’

Even with the hire of new head coach Chauncey Billups confirmed and the former point guard introduced at a press conference on Tuesday, Damian Lillard’s future in Portland is still up in the air.

Trust that among a number of other teams, the New York Knicks are waiting by the phones, ready to offer the farm as soon as/if word gets out that the six-time All-Star requests a trade.

Marc Berman of the New York Post reported over the weekend that Lillard is Leon Rose and company’s ‘first choice,’ and the team is prepared to offer a package centered around three first-round picks.

But until the Damian Lillard sweepstakes are officially underway, the Knicks have to plan as if he won’t be and continue exercising due diligence on other options.

Perhaps Lonzo Ball is a more realistic one.

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