Lonzo Ball interested in Knicks once free agency opens?
Could Lonzo Ball end up in the Big Apple? Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

For a while now, NBA rumors have pointed in the direction of the New York Knicks being interested in star guard Lonzo Ball. It makes sense for New York.

The team is in the midst of a surprising season and wants to add more star power in the Big Apple. The backdrop here is a belief that the Knicks want to compete with the star-studded Brooklyn Nets in the nation’s largest media market.

Team president Leon Rose has made it clear behind the scenes that adding a couple of stars is key to the Knicks’ ascension back to relevance in the NBA. Could Ball be an option?

According to a report from Marc Berman of the New York Post, the 23-year-old Ball has interest in signing with the Knicks once he hits the restricted free-agent market this coming summer.

“The Post has learned the Knicks, with plenty of cap room, would be heavily on Ball’s radar as a restricted free agent,” Berman noted.

This can’t be considered too much of a surprise. However, it’s not known whether the New Orleans Pelicans will deal Ball ahead of the March 25 NBA trade deadline.

Heck, they have an opportunity to match any offer for the former No. 2 pick once NBA free agency opens up. Berman reported that New Orleans will do that if any final offer doesn’t go higher than $18 million per season. For his part, Ball can earn up to $28 million annually in free agency.

Can the Knicks pull off a Ball trade?

Rose and Co. can get out in front of it by simply trading for Ball within the next week. Not only would that help the playoff contenders moving forward on the season, it would give the Knicks an opportunity to match any offer for Ball this coming summer.

Remember, New York is expected to have a ton of cap room to make big moves. Given the team’s success this season and young talent, it likely won’t be like other free-agent periods when the Knicks struck out big-time in adding elite-level talent. The 2019 offseason comes to mind after Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving spurned the Knicks for Brooklyn.

As for the Pelicans, it’s clear that they are looking to move Ball. The team has struggled to a 17-23 start to the season. The two-point guard backcourt of Ball and Eric Bledsoe is not working.

General manager David Griffin must find a better mix on the roster behind stars Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram. If the Pelicans are open to dealing Ball, here’s how a trade might look.

Ball trade scenario

  • Knicks get: Lonzo Ball 
  • Pelicans get: Obi Toppin, Kevin Knox, 2021 first-round pick (via Dallas), future second-round pick

This would be a pretty high price for the Knicks to pay. However, teaming Ball up with stud youngster Immanuel Quickley in the backcourt with All-Star Julius Randle, wing R.J. Barrett and talented center Mitchell Robinson in the frontcourt might be too hard for the Knicks brass to pass up.

As for the Pelicans, acquiring both Toppin and Knox might not make a bunch of sense on the surface. Toppin plays Williamson’s power forward position. Meanwhile, Knox would come off the bench behind current starting 3 Brandon Ingram.

With that said, it would be a long-term approach from Pelicans front-office head Griffin. The idea would be to flip Toppin either ahead of the NBA trade deadline or during the summer for a starting 2-guard to team up with rookie Kira Lewis Jr. in the backcourt. Zach LaVine, Evan Fournier and even DeMar DeRozan come to mind. Toppin would be a tremendous asset to have moving forward.

This article first appeared on Sportsnaut and was syndicated with permission.

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