As the Chicago Bulls eye the start of free agency, there’s one dark cloud that has continued to hang around the team – and it’s the unfortunate circumstance of Lonzo Ball’s mysterious knee injury.
Ball is reportedly expected to miss the entire 2023-24 NBA season and it leaves the Bulls in an awkward spot heading into the thick of the offseason. If Ball does go on to miss the entire season, it will mark the second straight year Ball has missed a complete 82-game campaign.
The outlook for Ball is looking dimmer by the day and with his contract guaranteed through the 2023-24 season with a player option that he’s unlikely to decline now for 2024-25, the only real chance that the Bulls have of being competitive in each of the next couple of seasons is by finding a team that would be willing to take on Ball’s contract.
Teams that can salvage the Chicago Bulls by taking on Lonzo Ball’s contract
In an attempt to accomplish that, we’ll explore seven teams that could theoretically help the Bulls by acquiring Ball’s contract while also giving out frameworks for what those deals could end up looking like.
In this first deal, the Bulls could look to swing a deal with Toronto Raptors centered around a Fred VanVleet sign-and-trade. This is a possibility that was floated previously in an article in The Athletic (subscription required). While there’s no concrete guarantee that the Bulls would want to pursue a deal for VanVleet or even that the Raptors would be interested in taking on Lonzo Ball’s contract, there are reasons why this deal would theoretically make sense for both sides.
For the Bulls, VanVleet is a veteran star that could fit next to DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine. If Chicago was set on expanding the window for their current core, this is a move that would accomplish that.
If the Raptors were going to lose VanVleet anyways, perhaps they’d be open to absorbing Ball’s contract if it meant also landing Patrick Williams and a future first-round pick in the process.