By Joshua M Hicks (@jhicks042)
Recent reports have revealed that Chicago Bulls Vice President of Basketball Operations John Paxson has made it known that he has interest in dealing the No. 7 pick in this year’s draft if the Bulls do not feel that a potential point guard of the future (Ja Morant, Darius Garland or Coby White, etc) is in play or if a best player available-type (Jarrett Culver, Cam Reddish or DeAndre Hunter) isnt worth taking a flyer on.
It would seem the Bulls are really considering trading their pick for a veteran player, but an idea getting pushed hard as of this week is that the Bulls are intrigued with the idea of bringing Los Angeles Lakers’ point guard Lonzo Ball to fill the team’s point guard void. Ball is not a bad option, but there are some things that need to be ironed out regarding this transaction for all parties involved.
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Trading with the Lakers could be an ideal situation for the Bulls if they play it right. Giving the Lakers the seventh pick can help them draft another wing player like Jarrett Culver, DeAndre Hunter or even slept-on candidate Cam Reddish to either replace a Josh Hart (who would most likely come with Ball in the trade) or use to increase their chances at another potential trade run for Anthony Davis.
Not to mention, retaining the No. 4 overall pick would let L.A. possibly use their fourth pick to draft Vanderbilt point guard Darius Garland.
For the Bulls, Ball can be a difference maker for a young squad still learning to come together. Ball’s talent as a play-maker can be transcendent at best, featuring talent and incredible court vision combined with the ability to push the ball in the fast-break game and ultimately create opportunities for his teammates. Ball also has tremendous length, which is something he uses to his advantage on the defensive end to create a positive defensive presence in the back-court.
Not too long ago the Bulls had a player like that before, and he happened to be Ball’s teammate this past season. Rajon Rondo performed under a similar skill-set in the short-lived “3 Alpha’s” era that featured him, Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade, it was quite impactful and led to a surprising amount of success including in that year’s postseason. Ball’s Rondo-esque skills fit perfectly for what this Jim Boylen-led team needs, but a couple more things can make Ball a true valuable asset as a Bull.
Ball needs to first focus on his health if he wants to improve as a pro.
In his two seasons in the league, Ball has not played in more than 55 games each season due to injuries. And as he gets stronger and healthier, Ball also has to work on his jump shot. Since being in the league — although he is slowly improving over time — Ball still is shooting 40 percent from the field, 32% from the three and an abysmal 42% from the free throw line. The Bulls are in need of a point guard that can not just control an offense, but also contribute in ways all across the score sheet while, more specifically. shooting the ball at a consistent rate from three. Such knocks are being consistently levied at current Bulls point guard Kris Dunn.
If Ball wants to make his stay long in the NBA, especially as a starting point guard, he needs to develop a jump shot, and playing with a young rebuilding team that he can grow with may aid that process.
Bringing in Ball would allow the Bulls to keep their salary cap low and give the franchise a chance to sign him to an extension, assuming that he does pan out well for them. But ultimately the team needs to provide Ball the room for him to grow as a talent. More specifically, Chicago’s coaching staff needs to help Ball develop as well as the rest of the young players on this current roster. The Bulls started that process by hiring former Nets assistant coach Chris Fleming as Boylen’s lead assistant — a respected coach around the league, Fleming most recently has helped develop D’Angelo Russell into the All-Star point guard that he is and helped coach the Nets into this season’s playoffs, Brooklyn’s first such berth since 2015.
Although they got a top assistant, Chicago still has another vacancy to fill with former Bulls assistant coach Pete Myers recently resigning after 16 years with the team due to personal reasons. Hiring the right guy to fill that bench void will be another key to the continued development of the young Bulls.
Of course, as it is dealing with any basketball player named Ball right now, the Bulls also have to be cognizant of the potential role Ball’s father, LaVar, might play if he lands here.
LaVar is no longer affiliated with Lonzo’s branding and promotional plans thanks to the Alan Foster embezzlement problem with the family’s Big Baller Brand and Lonzo has made it very clear that he is choosing his own path and making the decisions that are best for him going forward, even going as far as covering up his BBB tattoo to disassociate himself from the family company.
However, LaVar still has a relationship with Lonzo and plays a huge roll behind the scenes while being a willing participant in formulating public perception when needed. LaVar being in another big market may re-energize the promotional machine and provide new opportunities for the senior Ball to make the kind of crazy comments and criticisms of players and coaches that we know he is capable of doing. Such a campaign could completely override or change the narrative the Bulls may want the public to perceive. Though, that may not be such a bad thing after all.
As a trade option Lonzo Ball trade option is not the most enticing move available to the Bulls currently, but if this is the best the Bulls can do and these points I’ve laid out are taken to heart by both parties, this deal could end up working for the favor of both the Bulls and the emerging point guard long-term.
Joshua M. Hicks is a Senior Writer for WARR Media