As the offseason quickly approaches, Lonzo Ball inches closer to testing the free-agent market for the first time in his brief NBA career.
The former No. 2 overall pick has disappointed so far as he failed to become an impact guard, like his brother LaMelo in Charlotte, with the Los Angeles Lakers, and more recently, the New Orleans Pelicans.
But that doesn't meant the older Ball won't be a hot commodity on the free-agent market.
Although the experience will come as a restricted free agent, the Pelicans are reportedly not expected to match any significant offer sheet he receives. It sets the table for Ball to dictate where he will play next, so here are the five best landing spots for the 23-year-old.
5. New Orleans Pelicans
Although a return to the Pelicans remains on the table, Ball's time with the franchise looks to have run its course.
Ball became a more dependable three-point shooter, hitting 37.6% from beyond the arc in the last two seasons in New Orleans, but his role isn’t a part of the team’s long-term future. Eric Bledsoe remains under contract through the 2022-23 season while Brandon Ingram has excelled more with the ball in his hands as a playmaker.
In other words, a change of scenery is needed.
4. Los Angeles Lakers
In recent days, the Lakers emerged as a potential landing spot for the UCLA product due to the team’s desire for backcourt help. Ball certainly holds the edge with some level of comfort playing alongside LeBron James for one season.
However, Ball’s skill set doesn’t exactly blend well with James, who has historically operated primarily with the ball in his hands. The 23-year-old may be a more dependable shooter, but if he wants to maximize his ability it will have to be elsewhere.
Lonzo coming back to the team that drafted him would be a nice story, though.
3. Los Angeles Clippers
Like the Lakers, it’s no secret the Clippers are hoping to secure a strong presence in the backcourt. L.A. previously attempted to land Ball in the hours before last season’s trade deadline.
He could step into the starting lineup as the primary ball-handler to allow Paul George and Kawhi Leonard (when he’s healthy) to work more effectively off the ball. Rajon Rondo can also continue to operate off the bench to maintain another reliable point guard presence for the second unit.
Beyond that, Ball would join a team eyeing to contend for an NBA title behind its deep roster.
2. New York Knicks
The Knicks are expected to be an extremely busy team this offseason, hoping to build off last season’s success. Ball would have the opportunity to reunite with former Lakers teammate Julius Randle, who has developed into an All-Star talent.
Ball could immediately step in as the starting point guard with a chance to make a significant impact with his passing and defense. He would have a chance to grow with the core group that is looking to be a factor in the Eastern Conference.
Ball's highlight-reel passing could make him a fan favorite at Madison Square Garden.
1. Chicago Bulls
Among the potential options, the Bulls are likely the most intriguing for Ball.
Chicago needs a player with Ball’s skill to pair alongside All-Star Zach LaVine which will allow him to focus more on scoring.
Ball can step in to become the primary ball handler while pushing the floor in transition, where he and LaVine can excel. The duo would provide the Bulls a backcourt to build around for the next several years as the rest of the roster fills out. His passing would also benefit star big man Nikola Vucevic with more advantageous looks at the rim.
The only question that remains is what kind of contract will the Bulls offer.
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