Lonzo Ball Rumors: Bulls, Clippers Linked to PG; Pelicans Unlikely to Match Big Offer

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJuly 13, 2021

New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball (2) moves the ball up court in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the LA Clippers in New Orleans, Monday, April 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

The New Orleans Pelicans reportedly aren't willing to pay point guard Lonzo Ball big money in restricted free agency this offseason.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Clippers both have interest in Ball, and the Pelicans are "unlikely to match a significant offer sheet" if he signs one.

Ball, 23, has spent the past two seasons with the Pels after being traded to New Orleans as part of the deal that sent Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers.

After struggling to establish himself offensively during his first three NBA seasons, Ball made some strides in that area last season.

He averaged a career-high 14.6 points and 3.1 three-pointers made per game, while also shooting a career-best 41.4 percent from the field, 37.8 percent from beyond the arc and 78.1 percent from the free-throw line.

Although some other numbers were down, he still contributed in other areas as well, averaging 5.7 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals.

While Ball seems to be on the ascent, letting him walk could open up more playing time for guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker next season and beyond.

Alexander-Walker, who was the No. 17 overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft, showed flashes last season, including a 37-point performance in January and a 30-point showing in the second-to-last game of the season.

Given Ball's improved shooting to go along with his passing and defensive capabilities, it stands to reason that he will generate a fair amount of interest on the restricted free-agent market.

The Bulls would perhaps be a somewhat unexpected landing spot with guards Zach LaVine and Coby White both under contract next season, although their reported interest could mean thought is being given to trading LaVine.

LaVine is coming off a career year, as he averaged 27.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.9 assists en route to his first All-Star nod, although he can become a free agent at the end of next season.

The Clippers' reported interest is less surprising given their uncertainty at the point guard position.

Reggie Jackson will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason after a great playoff performance, and while Patrick Beverley is set to return, he has become fairly one-dimensional and is most valuable for his defense.

Ball does a little bit of everything, which would seemingly make him a great complementary piece alongside Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

The Clippers have fallen short of the NBA Finals in each of the past two seasons after acquiring Leonard and George, but Ball could be the type of player who helps put them over the top since his skill set is a blend of Jackson and Beverley rolled into one player.