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Lonzo Ball interested in the New York Knicks once NBA free agency opens

Feb 9, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball (2) goes to the basket against Houston Rockets guard John Wall (1) during the second half at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: 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 stars is key to the Knicks’ ascension back to relevance in the NBA. Could Lonzo Ball be an option?

According to this report from Marc Berman of the NY 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 season. For his part, Ball can earn up to $28 million annually in free agency.

Read More: This is how a Lonzo Ball trade to the New York Knicks might look

Can the New York Knicks pull off a Lonzo Ball trade?

Lonzo Ball trade, New York Knicks
Feb 21, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball (2) looks to pass the ball against Boston Celtics during the first half at Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

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 Lonzo 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.

Read More: 4 ideal Lonzo Ball trade scenarios

Lonzo Ball trade scenario

New York Knicks rumors: Victor Oladipo trade for Obi Toppin?
Dec 11, 2020; Detroit, Michigan, USA; New York Knicks forward Obi Toppin (1) celebrates with teammates after a play during the fourth quarter against the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
  • 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 frountcourt might be too hard for the Knicks’ brass to pass up on.

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

With that said, it would be a long-term approach from Pelicans front office head David Griffin. The idea would be to flip Toppin either ahead of the NBA trade deadline or during the summer for a starting two-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.