With the NBA's March 25 trade deadline looming, might Artūras Karnišovas be looking to shake up the Bulls' backcourt rotation?
The Bulls are "in pursuit" of New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball, The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor reported Sunday. O'Connor went as far as to report, citing league sources, that the Bulls have made an offer centered around Tomáš Satoranský and second-round picks for Ball. The Atlanta Hawks, per O'Connor, are also in the mix for Ball with a package involving Cam Reddish.
Pursuing Ball makes all the sense in the world for the Bulls. After a slow-shooting start, the fourth-year guard has rebounded to lift his season-long averages to 14.2 points, 5.6 assists and 1.3 steals while shooting 38.5 percent from 3-point range (7.8 attempts per game). A terrific team defender and push-the-pace facilitator, he could fill a position of need given the Bulls' struggles with defense, ball security and reliable playmaking at the guard spot, especially late in games. And he doesn't need the ball to be effective, making him a snug fit hypothetical fit alongside Zach LaVine or Coby White.
Two issues linger with Ball.
One: Like Lauri Markkanen, he's set to hit restricted free agency this offseason after his side and Pelicans brass failed to agree on an extension before last offseason's deadline. The Bulls would be wise to assess his long-term fit before pushing their chips all the way in, especially given the fact that they will be cap-space-flexible this summer and could pursue Ball then.
And the second: The asking price. If the Bulls' reported offer is accurate, Satoranský, who recently supplanted White in the Bulls' starting lineup, and second-round picks aren't getting the job done. Ball has been on a shooting tear since returning from an ankle sprain in mid-January -- eclipsing 40 percent from distance on eight attempts per game -- is one of the Pelicans' few reliable defenders and profiles as an exciting running mate for Zion Williamson.
Whether it be in negotiations with the Pelicans now or Ball's agent in the coming offseason, those factors could make his asking price for his services a hefty one. And the specter of his restricted free agency could make the proposition of unloading high-value assets in a trade dubious.
The Bulls enter Sunday night's matchup with the Detroit Pistons 18-22 and 10th in the Eastern Conference, the last spot in the 2021 play-in tournament.