Several teams will be vying for Lonzo Ball in the upcoming NBA Free Agency as rumors suggest that the New Orleans Pelicans won't be extending his contract in the offseason. Ball will become a restricted free agent at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season as he did not sign an extension before the league deadline.
A restricted free agent is allowed to negotiate with teams interested in his services. However, he can only sign an offer sheet. Once that is done, that player's current team can match the offer, in turn allowing them to keep the player under the same terms he agreed with his potential suitor.
NBA Free Agency: 5 teams that can make a play for Lonzo Ball in the 2021 offseason
Ball has improved this season, showing his ability as an elite playmaker who can also play solid defense. Several teams in the league can improve their roster by adding him to the fold.
This season, Ball is averaging 14.2 points and is shooting 42.5% from the field and 38.5% from beyond the arc. In addition to scoring, he is also averaging 5.6 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game.
Below, we will take a look at five teams that could sign Lonzo Ball in the 2021-22 offseason.
#1 New York Knicks
The New York Knicks are one of the top landing destinations for Lonzo Ball. Despite their revival this season, the Knicks are still missing a true playmaker who can run their offense.
The addition of Derrick Rose should help them in this regard, but he is an aging veteran. If the Knicks and coach Tom Thibodeau are thinking long-term, then Ball makes perfect sense for them.
The Knicks need to surround Julius Randle with as much help as possible to ease the opposing defense's attention on him. Not to mention Ball would be a good fit in their defense-first system with his sturdy defensive capabilities.
#2 Chicago Bulls
The team's sub-par performance this season led the Chicago Bulls front office to make some changes at the trade deadline. While those moves are yet to pay dividends, the Bulls will undoubtedly be active again in the offseason to improve their roster further.
Several rumors indicate they are interested in acquiring Lonzo Ball in free agency. He could prove to be the missing piece that could potentially turn things around in Chicago.
Zach LaVine is having a career-best season but he could be more effective with Ball supporting him on the other end with his defensive attributes. Lonzo could also help the Bulls with his playmaking, especially when the team is going through a dry stretch scoring-wise.
#3 Denver Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets are arguably the biggest winners at the 2021 trade deadline. They bolstered their lineup with the additions of reigning NBA champion JaVale McGee and high-flying Aaron Gordon.
That being said, the Nuggets still need a two-way guard who can switch his roles during important games, especially in the postseason.
Beyond his defensive gifts, Ball could also assist Nikola Jokic with his playmaking abilities. Coach Michael Malone will have two players he could call upon to run the offense with the addition of Ball to the mix.
The Denver Nuggets have proven themselves as top contenders this season and their rise in the West could persuade Ball to sign with them in the offseason.
#4 Charlotte Hornets
Lonzo Ball teaming up with his brother in Charlotte could prove to be a move that could increase the team's viewership twofold.
The Hornets drafted LaMelo with the third pick in the 2020 NFL draft and teaming him up with his older brother could launch a new era in the franchise's history.
The Hornets do have Terry Rozier, but his contract runs out at the end of the 2021-22 season. Rozier probably won't stick around beyond next season given his stellar form.
He will likely test the waters and sign a more lucrative deal with a team that is close to or already contending for the NBA title. Lonzo can take his place in the team. He would be a good fit for the Hornets as he can help them get better on both ends of the hardwood.
The Hornets are looking like a legitimate playoff threat this season and are trending upwards in general, which could make Ball's decision to sign with them easier.
#5 New Orleans Pelicans
Since Lonzo Ball will enter free agency as a restricted agent, the New Orleans Pelicans will be able to match any offer he receives.
They might be playing the waiting game to see if they can re-sign him on a more economical deal. Ball could decide to remain with his current team and continue playing with Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.
The Pelicans have not enjoyed much success this season. They are yet to decide whether to stick with their young core and hope they mature into better players.
Ball has elevated his game with them this season and could continue to grow under coach Stan Van Gundy's guidance. While technically Ball will be a free agent, the Pelicans have some control over his future and can easily retain him if they wish to do so.