Lonzo Ball

Where the Bulls fit in on a potential Anthony Davis deal

lonzoad.png
AP

Where the Bulls fit in on a potential Anthony Davis deal

If you've come here looking for a trade machine graphic that sends Anthony Davis to the Bulls, you're going to be disappointed.

No, Anthony Davis won't be suiting up for his hometown Bulls next season. But recent news indicates that a team like the Bulls could be a factor in a potential deal involving the New Orleans Pelicans and Davis' eventual destination.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Monday afternoon that GM David Griffin doesn't believe a two-team deal will fulfill his wishes in a Davis deal and that he is "working to find multi-team trade scenarios that could redirect assets for players of picks more preferable to the Pelicans."

What Woj is reporting here, essentially, is that no one team has enough attainable and realistic assets to acquire Davis, who hasn't budged on his demand for a trade request he made back in January.

So, how do the Bulls fit in?

Woj reported that Griffin is "pursuing a combination of assets that include an All-Star player, a young player with All-Star potential and two first-round picks" and that a team trying to deal for Davis could "find a team that hypothetically values its young players more than New Orleans."

Add up both those factors and the Bulls' No. 7 pick for Lonzo Ball comes into play. This is obviously speculation - though Ball has been connected to the Bulls for quite some time this offseason - but if the Pelicans aren't sold on Ball, or simply value the 7th pick more, the Bulls could become a third team in a Davis deal, sending the No. 7 pick to New Orleans in exchange for Ball. The Lakers could send the rest of the package - a combination of Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, the No. 4 pick, future first-round picks - to the Pelicans and get Davis in return.

Woj also reported that in addition to the Lakers, the Clippers, Knicks and Nets have also inquired about a Davis deal. It's tough to peg who the Bulls could get back in a three-team deal with those involved, but players like Brooklyn's Spencer Dinwiddie or New York's Kevin Knox could be on the table for the No. 7 pick. Again, those are simply names the Bulls might be looking for to fill needs. That's not to say either the Bulls or the team dealing for Davis would be interested in a swap for the 7th pick.

For now, Woj's report simply means the Bulls, owners of that No. 7 pick, could be back in play as a potential trade partner for Davis.

Could the Bulls trade the No. 7 pick? John Paxson makes it seem like it's an option

draft-lottery-514.jpg
USA TODAY

Could the Bulls trade the No. 7 pick? John Paxson makes it seem like it's an option

John Paxson had the post-NBA Draft Lottery playbook open, reeling off textbook line after line about how the Bulls will find someone useful with the 7th overall pick in June. Paxson said the Bulls have already gone to their big board and that there are more than seven players they like, meaning the Bulls will have their choice of talent when they go on the clock at No. 7.

Unless they aren’t on the clock at No. 7.

When asked if picking midway through the Lottery will have the Bulls bypass the traditional best player available strategy and target a need such as point guard, Paxson seemed open to the idea.

“I think if you’re looking at comparable guys in a tier, sometimes need takes precedent over (best player available),” Paxson said. “And I’ve talked to our entire group about keeping an open mind on things like that this year.

“There’s other things you can do with picks to get better. You can trade them, you can do a lot of different things. So again, now that we know where we’re at, thankful to know and we’ll get to work trying to find a way to make best use of it.”

Doesn’t exactly sound like someone intent on keeping the pick if the right deal comes along. Then again, it takes two to tango and trades are difficult to come by for myriad reasons. For now, it’s feasible that the Bulls could use the No. 7 pick to go a different route than simply selecting from their big board after the Phoenix Suns pick at No. 6.

The Bulls, of course, have three options with the seventh pick. They can use it, along with other assets, to move up in the draft, they can ask for a package in return for the pick and move down, or they can remain at No. 7 and take the player who falls to them.

There was never much discussion the first two go-rounds of the Bulls dealing the 7th overall pick. In 2017, the draft day trade for Jimmy Butler came about just before the pick happened, so the Bulls weren’t going to flip the trade again. And in 2018, there were rumors about trying to move up to No. 4, but in what many considered a six-player draft, moving back to No. 7 was difficult enough – and the Bulls didn’t have many assets to deal at the time and Chandler Parsons’ contract was really difficult to move.

But perhaps this time around the discussions start up again. The Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley reported Tuesday before the NBA Draft Lottery that the Bulls and Lakers could have discussions regarding a deal for point guard Lonzo Ball in exchange for wherever the Bulls wound up. The Bulls held the fourth best odds in the Lottery, seven spots better than the No. 11 Lakers.

As fate would have it, the Lakers actually jumped into the fourth position in the Lottery, while the Bulls were bumped back four spots to No. 7. That’s not to say a potential trade between the two parties couldn’t still happen. While the Lakers were looking to rack up additional assets as they make a push for contention around LeBron James, the 7th pick could still hold value to give them a pair of picks in the first half of the 2019 NBA Draft.

It’s unlikely that the Lakers would part with Ball for simply the No. 7 pick. Though he’s been the butt of many jokes because of his outspoken father, Ball is still highly valued around the league as one of the best passing and defending point guards in the NBA. He’s not going to come cheap, and it’s unlikely they’d have any interest in Kris Dunn to sweeten the pot.

It’s also unlikely the Bulls move up in the draft. Williamson and the No. 1 pick are off-limits, while Memphis will have no problem building around Ja Morant as they enter their rebuild in the wake of the Marc Gasol deal from February and a potential Mike Conley trade. As we’ve documented before, it’s really expensive to move up into the top five of the draft, and given that the talent pool is so evenly balanced after Williamson, Morant and R.J. Barrett, the Bulls would really need to be in love with a player to give up assets.

They could also move back, but going from No. 7 into the double-digits is a pretty significant step backward. And the price isn’t expensive to move to No. 7 like it would be to move to No. 3 or 4. The Bulls wouldn’t get a king’s ransom back at No. 7, and after a 27- and 22-win season they need to stay aggressive and move toward winning.

The good news is Paxson seems open to all options at No. 7.

Report: Lonzo Ball prefers a move to Chicago or New York if moved in Anthony Davis deal

usatsi_12027786.jpg
USA TODAY

Report: Lonzo Ball prefers a move to Chicago or New York if moved in Anthony Davis deal

Big Baller Brand in the Windy City?

It was floated as a possibility two years ago when the Bulls were discussing a trade for Jimmy Butler and entering a rebuild. And now, with Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball being at the front of hypothetical trade talks in an Anthony Davis deal, he reportedly has his sights set on Chicago or New York.

L.A. Times reporter Tania Ganguli wrote that Ball is concerned with the "crowded" Pelicans backcourt and if included in a Davis deal would prefer to be re-routed to New York or Chicago in a three-team deal.

Let's begin with the facts: The Pelicans have shown no inclination that they'll trade Davis before the Feb. 7 trade deadline, and when they eventually deal Davis it's not a sure bet that Ball will be in the deal. While the Lakers remain the frontrunners because of Davis' reported desire to join LeBron James in 2020, New Orleans may sell instead to the highest bidder.

The Pelicans are reportedly enamored with Ball, and for good reason. The 21-year-old is averaging 9.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists in his second NBA season. His numbers have suffered some playing with James this season but he's an outstanding passer, has elite defensive potential and an improving jump shot. He's lethal in transition and is an excellent playmaker for someone so young, and has excellent size at 6-foot-6.

Also, the report makes no mention of the Bulls having interest in Ball. And, ironically, the Bulls are more crowded in the backcourt than New Orleans. Though Ball is a better player than Kris Dunn is most aspects, the Bulls invested heavily in the 25-year-old and he's still under contract for two more years. The Bulls appear willing to give Dunn time to figure out some of his shortcomings. He's been inconsistent but has battled through multiple injuries in his two seasons in Chicago and has shown flashes, especially on the defensive end.

Plus, the Bulls don't have many assets to include in a Ball deal.

They're building around the trio of Wendell Carter Jr., Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine, and including draft picks for Ball in any sort of deal doesn't really vibe with where the rebuild is headed. Plus, Dunn doesn't really fit in with L.A. or New Orleans so it's hard to see him being an outgoing piece in a deal.

All told, it's nice that Ball is reportedly interested in coming to Chicago. But even if Dunn isn't the answer at point guard in the Bulls' rebuild it's a little far-fetched to think that Ball would come over in a deal. He'd be an excellent fit but the timing is off and the Bulls couldn't offer much in return. For now it's just a fun headline to click on.