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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Bulls bring on Lonzo for $85M, Caruso for $37M


The Chicago Bulls and point guard Lonzo Ball have agreed on a four-year, $85 million deal as part of a sign-and-trade agreement with the New Orleans Pelicans, Ball’s agent, Rich Paul, told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Monday.

The Bulls also reached an agreement on a four-year, $37 million pact with guard Alex Caruso, his agent, Greg Lawrence, told ESPN.

Ball slots in at a guard spot where he can grow with Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic as Chicago tries to take the next step to be competitive in the Eastern Conference.

As New Orleans shifted more to allowing Zion Williamson to run the point position in the offense, Ball’s role for the Pelicans became that of an off-ball wing who could control the offense in the open court and cede duties to Williamson in the half court. He’ll have an opportunity to run the offense again with Chicago.

Ball, 23, has had an up-and-down four seasons since entering the league as the No. 2 overall pick by the Los angeles lakers in 2017. He experienced some difficulty living up to the high expectations in L.A. but once he got to New Orleans, his game improved. Being among the players dealt in the Anthony Davis trade, Ball found a better shooting stroke with the Pelicans. After shooting 31.5% from deep and 43.7% from the line in his two seasons with the Lakers, Ball upped those numbers to 37.6% and 66.4% in New Orleans.

In 2020-21, he averaged career highs in 3-point percentage (.378), field goal percentage (.414), free throw percentage (.781), true shooting percentage (.551) and points per game (14.6).

He also protected the ball like never before with a career-low 14.5 turnover percentage, while his usage percentage was also at a career high (20.5).

Ball has struggled with injury issues throughout his young career and has yet to play a full season in the NBA. He missed 65 games in his first two seasons with the Lakers and a combined 26 in the past two years with the Pelicans.

The Bulls are sending Tomas Satoransky, Garrett Temple and a second-round pick back to the Pelicans in the deal, sources told ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. Temple is joining the Pelicans on a new 3-year, $15 million deal, sources told ESPN. The last year of that deal is not guaranteed, a source told The Undefeated’s Marc Spears.

Undrafted out of Texas A&M, Caruso is a poster child for using alternative avenues to find a home in the league — first playing in the G League and later latching onto the Lakers with a two-way contract — before signing a two-year deal with L.A. in the summer of 2019.

The 27-year-old wing showed off his versatility last season, playing minutes at shooting guard, small forward and point guard for the Lakers. He finished the season averaging 6.4 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 21 minutes per game and shot 40.1 percent from 3.

Caruso missed 14 games during the regular season because of health and safety protocols and various other injuries. He also had to exit the Lakers’ Game 6 series-ending loss to Phoenix in the first round of the playoffs with a left ankle strain.

L.A. expressed interest in re-signing Caruso, sources told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, but the Lakers’ offer as a cap conscious, repeat tax-paying team was not as enticing for the four-year veteran.

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