Lonzo Ball, the New Orleans point guard on Chicago’s radar since the March 2021 trade deadline, will fill the Chicago Bulls’ biggest need in a sign-and-trade deal reported moments into the NBA’s free-agency period Monday evening.
Ball, a restricted free agent, will sign a four-year, $85 million offer sheet and moves to Chicago in a deal that send veteran guard Tomas Satoransky, wing Garrett Temple and a second-round pick to the Pelicans.
In Ball, the Bulls acquire an improving two-way playmaker to team with wing Zach LaVine and center Nikola Vucevic, both 2021 All-Stars in need of better organization in coach Billy Donovan’s offense. Despite that tandem’s best efforts — LaVine averaged 27.4 points on 50.7% shooting, Vucevic 21.5 points on 47.1% shooting — Chicago ranked 21st in the league at 110.4 points per 100 possessions.
Ball also regains some of the control in Chicago that he lost in New Orleans with Zion Williamson running point in the team’s offense in 2020-21, which transformed the guard into more of an off-ball wing in the half court for the Pelicans that was also plenty capable of controlling the offense in the open court.
Relying on Satoransky, second-year combo guard Coby White and LaVine to initiate their attack, the Bulls ranked eighth in assists but 27th in turnovers. They were 17th with 34.0 3-point attempts per game and last in getting to the foul line. Arturas Karnisovas, Chicago’s executive vice president of basketball operations, still has moves to make, most likely involving restricted free-agent forward Lauri Markkanen, whose production still has not matched his potential.
Ball had the best of his four NBA seasons in 2020-21, setting career highs with 14.6 points per game and 37.8% accuracy while attempting 8.3 shots from the arc. His defense should help make up for LaVine’s weaknesses at that end, and at 6-foot-4, he and the 6-5 LaVine can rank among the league’s biggest and quickest backcourt.