NBA rumors: Zion Williamson on free agent Lonzo Ball: I hope he stays with Pelicans

Scott Kushner: Zion said he has a great relationship with Ingram and Ball. “I hope he stays”

More on Lonzo Ball Free Agency

Andrew Lopez: Zion says he would want Zo to come back and says "he knows that." "Zo is a grown man so he's going to make a decision that's best for him. Only thing I can say is I hope he stays."
There is plenty of talk around the league linking Ball to the Knicks if he isn’t retained by the Pelicans. So given that the Bulls engaged in trade talks centered around Ball at the deadline, I’d assume they’d re-engage and monitor the situation. But I’d rank the Bulls behind both the Knicks and Pelicans in handicapping where Ball is playing next summer.
Dennis Schroder is also on New York’s radar as it plans for the 2021 offseason. The Knicks spoke to New Orleans about a trade for Lonzo Ball prior to the deadline. Given that, it seems like they will at least consider making an offer to Ball, who will be a restricted free agent.
Earlier in the week, Ian Begley of SNY reported that the New York Knicks have interest in going after Lakers point guard Dennis Schröder in unrestricted free agency this summer. However, it also sounds like he isn’t the only option they’re considering, and they may not be the team to give him the giant offer he’s reportedly seeking. Begley clarified during a recent appearance on SNY (emphasis mine): “As they (the Knicks) look ahead towards free agency, obviously the immediate focus is on this playoff push, but they’re also keeping an eye on the offseason. So Schröder is a guard that some of them like, and Lonzo Ball has some support within the organization, but I don’t think it’s uniform support on Lonzo, or probably Dennis either.
The Pelicans have expressed interest in keeping Ball. When extension talks broke down before the season, the front office pointed toward Ingram, who also didn't reach an extension with the Pelicans going into the final year of his rookie contract. He subsequently had a breakout season that led to a Most Improved Player Award and then a maximum contract. The idea was that if Ball likewise had a strong season, the organization would follow suit.
Teams in need of a point guard are preparing for Ball in free agency even with the Pelicans owning matching rights. New Orleans has only $91 million on its books for next season, giving the team cap space and plenty of room under the tax line. But Josh Hart, who has also been proficient playing alongside Williamson, will also be a restricted free agent -- and likely will be a more cost-efficient option than Ball. Attempts to move Eric Bledsoe, who is owed $18 million next year, haven't been successful.
Though the Knicks made a very light push for Ball at the March 25 trade deadline, the Bulls did a lot more of the talking with Pelicans general manager David Griffin. If Ball were to leave, Chicago would be the Knicks’ top competitor, according to sources.
Because of luxury-tax concerns, the feeling around the league is the Pelicans may pass on matching any offer over $20 million per season with rookie lottery-pick point guard Kira Lewis and combo guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker in the fold. The Post reported Ball has the Knicks on his radar. His father, LaVar, had hoped Ball’s youngest brother, LaMelo, would be drafted by the Knicks last November — wanting him to play amid the bright lights of New York City.
Oleh Kosel: Brian Windhorst on The Jump says it's unclear if Pelicans can afford to keep Lonzo Ball due to other financial commitments but to watch Knicks, Heat and Raptors. Zo, Schroder & Lowry are "to be the subject of a bidding war amongst the teams that need a point guard this summer."
Despite LaVar’s bold remarks on Los Angeles radio, The Post has learned Lonzo doesn’t feel the same way about being dealt Thursday. The Pelicans have had a disappointing season — 18-24, in 11th place in the West. However, Ball’s preference is to fight for a playoff berth with New Orleans and put his focus on his first free agency, one NBA source said.
The Post reported last week Ball would have the Knicks high on his free-agent radar. As far as putting together a package now for Ball, league sources believes the Knicks would tend to be reluctant knowing they can have Ball for free this summer.
ESPN’s cap guru Bobby Marks told The Post he doubts the Pelicans would match an offer sheet that starts higher than $18 million. The max starting number is $28 million. The Post has learned the Knicks, with plenty of cap room, would be heavily on Ball’s radar as a restricted free agent.
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June 21, 2021 | 7:41 pm EDT Update
The final year, the Hawks had a Rookie of the Year NBA legend — Bob Pettit, but left for St. Louis where they won a championship a few years later. “There were a number of reasons why the Hawks didn’t make it here,” Sell said. “The most obvious being the NBA wasn’t anywhere near the league is today. The Hawks also finished in last place all four years they were here.” News clippings from the time show the attendance usually hovered at around 1,000 fans, no match for the other pro team in town. Tickets sold for $1.
June 21, 2021 | 5:57 pm EDT Update