Knicks News, 7/15: Lonzo Ball still a possibility but other teams have entered the fold

New York Knicks, Lonzo Ball
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

One of the top targets for the New York Knicks at the trade deadline this past season was New Orleans point guard Lonzo Ball. At 23 years old, Ball is entering his fifth season in the NBA, coming off his best year in 2020. Over 55 games, Ball averaged 14.6 points, 5.7 assists, and 4.8 rebounds, shooting 41% from the field and 38% from range over 8.3 attempts per game. He saw his free-throw percentage spike from 56 to 78%, a massive indication of growth and progression in his efficiency.

As an effective defender, Ball would likely fit in with the Knicks like a glove, and head coach Tom Thibodeau would be perfect in extracting his value and potential.

Ian Begley of SNY indicated that the Knicks’ front office was split on targeting Lonzo this off-season, despite reports stating they would remain interested after failing to acquire him at the deadline. Instead, the team brought in Derrick Rose, who played valiantly and proved he still has starting minutes left in his bones.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Ball will have others interested in his services aside from the Knicks:

New Orleans is unlikely to match a significant offer sheet on Ball, sources said. Ball, 23, is among the top point guards on the free-agent market. The Bulls and Clippers are expected to be among the teams interested in him, according to sources.

With the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Clippers entering the picture as potential suitors for Ball, the Knicks will be battling a high price tag for the former second overall pick in 2017. Considering that reality, that is likely why President Leon Rose has targeted Collin Sexton of the Cleveland Cavaliers as a potential supplement.

Shams also indicated that the Knicks would be one of the more aggressive players in the Sexton sweepstakes, especially with Cleveland already featuring Darius Garland (was chosen over Sexton for the USA Select Team). Sexton has two years left on his deal, including a $6.3 million price point for the 2021-22 season, which would provide the Knicks plenty of room to continue signing quality players to help their chances of a playoff run next year.

Sexton has a qualifying offer of $8.56 million after this upcoming season, but he’s already eligible for his rookie max extension, which would be five years, $168 million until 2026. If the Knicks can acquire him on a fair deal, they would have two years to gauge his value before extending him on a long-term contract, but there is a belief around the league that he is not considered a max player.