Now that the draft order has been decided, teams around the league — particularly lottery teams — have a better idea of how they can approach their offseasons. One of those teams with more clarity is the Chicago Bulls.
The Bulls have three pieces they believe are cornerstones for their future in Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, and Wendell Carter Jr. That leaves a hole on the wing, which is being temporarily filled by Otto Porter Jr., and a more pressing need at point guard. At the seventh pick, however, Chicago now believes it will be challenging to find their point guard of the future in the draft, so the team may pursue a trade.
K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune reported that the Bulls have identified Lonzo Ball as a logical target in this pursuit:
Ball intrigues the Bulls as a pass-first, defensive-minded point guard with positional size who can best maximize the talents of Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine and Wendell Carter Jr.
Chicago had the 25th-ranked defense in the league last year, and the combinations of any two player within that three-man young core were below average, which is why Ball makes a ton of sense as a defensive presence to complement their offensive abilities. In particular, the backcourt pairing of Kris Dunn and LaVine (the theoretical prizes of the Jimmy Butler trade) had a defensive rating of 114.2.
Los Angeles hasn’t shown any interest in trading Ball, short of acquiring Anthony Davis, and Johnson believes that is how the Bulls can get involved.
According to multiple league executives, Dunn’s trade value is low to nonexistent. So a direct trade with the Lakers centered on Dunn and the No. 7 pick doesn’t seem feasible. However, the Bulls could be in position to facilitate a three-team deal in which the Lakers acquire Davis from the Pelicans.
When the Lakers were engaged in trade talks with New Orleans back at the trade deadline, there were reports that Ball wasn’t interested in playing for the Pelicans, so a three-team deal could be plausible. It’s also worth noting that Ball’s camp reportedly listed Chicago as one of the teams they’d prefer to be traded to during the Davis trade saga.
Even though trading Lonzo directly to Chicago is highly unlikely, L.A. will presumably restart discussions with New Orleans over the summer, and it’s helpful for the Lakers in those negotiations that their young players still hold value around the league.
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