NBA Rumor: Lonzo Ball Free Agency

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Aware of those parameters, the Heat last Sunday picked up the 2021-22 $19.4 million team option on the contract of veteran guard Goran Dragic, with that contract along with the contract of neophyte center Precious Achiuwa utilized as matching salaries for the Lowry acquisition. The advance work on the Lowry possibility at the NBA trading deadline was in marked contrast to the sign-and-trade agreement between the Bulls and Pelicans for Ball, with no trade consideration in that case at the trading deadline.

There seems to be legitimate traction on a three-team sign-and-trade framework between Chicago, New Orleans and Charlotte that would likely nullify any of the Bulls’ fears of losing out on their preferred point guard target. From conversations with multiple league sources, the framework that would be discussed appears to focus on landing Ball in Chicago, Devonte’ Graham in New Orleans and Tomas Satoransky, Josh Hart and draft capital to Charlotte.

Hollinger: I’ve heard a lot of different stuff, but if I had to bet on one outcome, I think it ends with an offer sheet from the Bulls that the Pelicans decide to match after Kyle Lowry signs with the Mavericks. At the end of the day, Ball is both young and good, and having him on a multiyear deal on the same timeline as Zion and Ingram is still New Orleans’ best option. Keeping him also lets them re-sign Hart and use their full mid-level exception — and hopefully build the team in a more organic way than relying on the cap-space fairy to save them.

With Ball’s ties to the Los Angeles area, there will always be speculation about him making a potential return to the West Coast. With Russell Westbrook going to the Lakers, the Clippers are obviously the only team we should focus on here. There have been some rumors about the Clippers having interest in Ball to fill their hole at point guard. Reggie Jackson was incredible during their playoff run last year, but I’d imagine the Clips have some interest in getting younger and a little more athletic in the backcourt.

We’ve heard the potential interest from the Lakers and Clippers as well as a mutual interest between Ball and the Chicago Bulls, but on today’s episode of The Lowe Post, a new ‘hot rumor’ is let out of the bag. “Have you heard anything about Brogdon for Lonzo in a sign-and-trade?” Jonathan Givony of ESPN asked. “That’s been one of the hot rumors, that’s been one of the hot rumors,” Zach Lowe said. “Don’t know what to think of it honestly so I haven’t mentioned it because I kind of don’t know if I believe it.”

Knicks targeting Kendrick Nunn in free agency

The Knicks spoke to New Orleans about a potential Ball trade prior to the deadline but nothing materialized. As recently as late in the regular season, there was no consensus on Ball among Knicks decision makers. Nunn, per sources, is among the guards who have been on the Knicks’ radar as they consider their offseason plans. Nunn shot 38.1 percent from beyond the arc on nearly six attempts per game this season and shot it remarkably well in the second half of the season.

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.

Clippers, Bulls, Nuggets and Hawks showed interest in Lonzo Ball at trade deadline

Ball was involved in trade discussions with several teams before last month’s trade deadline, with the LA Clippers, Chicago Bulls, Denver Nuggets and Atlanta Hawks among the teams showing interest, sources said. Some executives came away from those talks with the belief that Ball might be available in a sign-and-trade in the offseason as a restricted free agent.

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.

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.
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September 22, 2021 | 7:42 pm EDT Update