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#pounditWednesday, September 28, 2022

Lonzo Ball

Lonzo Ball thinks reporters jinxed him

Lonzo Ball warming up

Lonzo Ball thinks that his bad luck this week was not entirely coincidental.

The Chicago Bulls guard officially entered health and safety protocols on Sunday. Right after the news broke, Ball aired out his feelings on Twitter.

“Y’all jinxed me,” he wrote.

Ball is referring to the exchange that he had with reporters earlier this week. After a win over Houston on Monday, Ball was asked how he had managed to avoid COVID so far and responded with a great answer. At the time, Ball was one of the very few Bulls players to have evaded protocols this season.

But now less than a week later, Ball has finally and unfortunately entered into protocols. With that kind of timing, you can’t blame him for thinking that reporters put the jinx on him.

Photo: Mar 26, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball warms up before their game against the Denver Nuggets at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Lonzo Ball shares how he has avoided COVID thus far

Lonzo Ball warming up

Lonzo Ball is fittingly living out the mantra of “Ball Is Life.”

The Chicago Bulls guard, who has been one of the few players on the team to avoid health and safety protocols thus far, explained to reporters on Monday how he has managed to do so.

“I don’t really do too much,” said Ball. “I just play and go back home, really. There’s not a lot of situations where I can probably get COVID, and I’m just thankful I haven’t got it yet.”

At one point, the Bulls had ten players in protocols. That led to two of their games getting postponed earlier this month. As of Tuesday afternoon, the NBA had seen 117 total players enter protocols this season, including 101 new players this month, per ESPN’s Baxter Holmes. One of those players was Ball’s younger brother LaMelo, who plays for the Charlotte Hornets.

Ball is a bit of an introvert who prefers to focus on his game, as evidenced by his huge improvement in three-point shooting and other areas. It turns out that the lifestyle of “buckets and buckets only” has been doing a great job of keeping Ball healthy too.

Photo: Mar 26, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball warms up before their game against the Denver Nuggets at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Lonzo Ball has funny comment about Justin Fields

Lonzo Ball warming up

Lonzo Ball is well aware of another star athlete who arrived in Chicago at the same that he did.

The Chicago Bulls guard Ball threw it back to his days at Chino Hills High School on Monday with a perfect full-court outlet pass to DeMar DeRozan against the Houston Rockets.

With his quarterbacking skills on full display, Ball was jokingly asked after the game if he could make it in time to Soldier Field where the Chicago Bears were in action against the Minnesota Vikings.

“Nah, Justin’s got it,” replied Ball in reference to Bears QB Justin Fields, per KC Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

Fields, who has been in and out of the starting lineup as a rookie, completed 26-of-39 passes against Minnesota for 285 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. He did, however, lose a fumble, and the Vikings won 17-9.

While Fields’ play has been ugly at times, he has already shown that he can make winning plays. Rest assured too that Ball, despite his own gift for passing, does not have any desire to take Fields’ job.

Photo: Mar 26, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball warms up before their game against the Denver Nuggets at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

NBA announces penalties for Lonzo Ball, Kyle Lowry tampering

Lonzo Ball warming up

The NBA has completed its tampering investigations regarding the deals involving Lonzo Ball and Kyle Lowry, and the result was nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

The Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat will both have to forfeit their next available second-round draft pick, the NBA announced on Wednesday.

That punishment is light considering the NBA could have fined the franchises up to $10 million each and handed out suspensions to team executives. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the league told teams in a memo that the Bulls and Heat “fully cooperated with the investigations” and that their cooperation was taken into account.

Chicago acquired Ball in a sign-and-trade deal with the New Orleans Pelicans. The deal was reported almost immediately when the free agency legal tampering period began, though it wasn’t completed until Aug. 8.

The Heat acquired Lowry in a sign-and-trade deal with the Toronto Raptors. The deal was completed on Aug. 6 but Lowry announced an hour into free agency on Aug. 2 that he would be signing with Miami.

Sign-and-trade deals can be complex to pull off. So when the deals were reported so quickly, red flags apparently were raised for the league.

The NBA reviewed electronic messages from agents and team executives during their investigation. The Pelicans and Raptors were also investigated due to their involvement, but no punishment was announced for either team.

Photo: Mar 26, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball warms up before their game against the Denver Nuggets at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Lonzo Ball has surprising admission about his time with Lakers

Lonzo Ball warming up

The Los Angeles Lakers picking UCLA product and L.A. native Lonzo Ball in 2017 seemed almost too good of a story to be true, and it turns out that it was. Now Ball is offering some interesting reflections on his time with them.

The Chicago Bulls guard spoke this week to Dime Magazine and made an admission about his Lakers career — that he failed to meet expectations.

“This is my third team in five years and every team’s been a different experience for myself,” said Ball. “Obviously, coming to L.A., I was a young kid with a lot of expectations put on me that I didn’t really live up to.

“Then [I] got shipped off to New Orleans, where I worked on my game and improved the areas that needed the most help in,” Ball went on. “Now I’m the player I am in Chicago, one of the key guys and trying to contribute every night in and night out.”

Ball, who turned 24 this past October, was just 19 years old when the Lakers drafted him. His growing pains were pronounced as a rookie, especially his wobbly shooting ability. The scrutiny only intensified when LeBron James arrived on the Lakers in 2018, a move that changed the overall trajectory of both the franchise as well as of Ball’s development. Ball was eventually traded to the Pelicans in 2019 as part of the Anthony Davis deal.

In New Orleans and now in Chicago, Ball has flown more under the radar and has quietly been able to develop his game into that of a strong all-around winning piece. As for his time with the Lakers though, there is probably another reason why Ball had such massive expectations then.

Photo: Mar 26, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball warms up before their game against the Denver Nuggets at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

NBA teams facing significant penalties over Lonzo Ball, Kyle Lowry tampering

Lonzo Ball warming up

The NBA teams that are the focus of tampering investigations regarding the deals involving Lonzo Ball and Kyle Lowry are facing significant penalties.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Friday that the NBA is getting closer to completing its investigation into the Ball and Lowry transactions. The findings and penalties from the investigation could be released soon, according to Woj.

The penalties on the table are significant. Teams could be fined as much as $10 million; team executives could be suspended; teams could forfeit draft picks; and contracts could even be voided. Woj notes that a contract being voided is unlikely.

The Chicago Bulls acquired Ball in a sign-and-trade deal with the New Orleans Pelicans. The deal was reported almost immediately when the free agency legal tampering period began, though it wasn’t completed until Aug. 8.

The Miami Heat acquired Lowry in a sign-and-trade deal with the Toronto Raptors. The deal was completed on Aug. 6 but Lowry announced an hour into free agency on Aug. 2 that he would be signing with Miami.

Sign-and-trade deals can be complex to pull off. So when the deals were reported so quickly, red flags apparently were raised for the league.

The NBA has been reviewing electronic messages from agents and team executives during their investigation. The Bulls, Pelicans, Heat and Raptors are the four teams being investigated by the league.

One reporter already suggested the Bulls are facing a pretty serious penalty from the league.

Photo: Mar 26, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball warms up before their game against the Denver Nuggets at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Lonzo Ball has unflattering comment about former team

Lonzo Ball warming up

Lonzo Ball’s former teammates might not be too happy about a recent comment that he made.

The Chicago Bulls released a video to YouTube this week giving a behind-the-scenes look of their start to the season. The video included a clip of Ball addressing his teammates during practice ahead of Chicago’s opening game against the New Orleans Pelicans, Ball’s old team. Ball shared his scouting report on the Pelicans and made an unflattering remark about them.

“They don’t really wanna pass the ball,” he said. ” BI [Brandon Ingram] is trying to get to the mid-range, and Nickeil [Alexander-Walker] wants to get to the layup.”

Ball was with the Pelicans for the last two seasons and had been teammates with Ingram in particular for his entire career, dating back to their time on the Los Angeles Lakers. The Bulls would go on to win that game 128-112.

The difference has to feel stark for the former No. 2 overall pick Ball. After going a combined 61-83 (.424) in New Orleans, Ball has now helped lead the Bulls to a 6-1 record, tied for best in the NBA. Ball also had more shade for the Pelicans right after he left, so it sounds like there is no love lost there.

Photo: Mar 26, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball warms up before their game against the Denver Nuggets at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Could Bulls lose first-round pick in Lonzo Ball tampering case?

Lonzo Ball

The NBA is investigating the Chicago Bulls over its acquisition of Lonzo Ball this summer. One report says that the Bulls could be subject to significant discipline.

The Bulls agreed to a four-year, $85 million deal with Ball. Terms of the deal were reported as soon as the free agency negotiation window opened on Aug. 2. By Aug. 7, we learned that the Bulls were being investigated for potentially tampering with Ball given how quickly news of his Bulls contract was reported.

The New Orleans Pelicans ended up working a sign-and-trade with the Bulls for Tomas Satoranský, Garrett Temple, cash and a 2024 2nd-round draft pick.

The results of the tampering investigation have not yet been announced. But on Monday, 670 The Score in Chicago’s Cody Westerlund reported that “there’s a belief in some NBA circles that the Bulls could be docked a first-round draft pick.”

The Bulls being stripped of a first-round pick over their Ball sign-and-trade would be extreme. But some apparently think such a punishment is in the cards.

Recall that two years ago, the NBA said it was making an effort to crack down on tampering. Whether the Bulls end up being penalized harshly is a different matter.

Lonzo Ball appears to take shot at Pelicans after departure

Lonzo Ball

Lonzo Ball seems to think that there is a much better basketball opportunity awaiting him on his new team than there was on his old team.

At his introductory press conference with the Chicago Bulls on Friday, Ball appeared to take a shot at his former club, the New Orleans Pelicans. Ball said that he wanted to go somewhere he would be appreciated and could play his game. He added that the Bulls “wanted me for me.”

This definitely reads as shade towards the Pelicans, a team where Ball’s role never seemed to suit him. The 23-year-old is at his best as a playmaker in open court and halfcourt situations. But New Orleans often used Ball as more of a role player, asking him to focus on spot-up shooting and defense.

Ball agreed to a deal with the Bulls right after free agency officially began. That indicates that he was never truly considering a return to New Orleans. The Pelicans themselves also seemed to treat Ball as if he was already gone. Thus, it is not hard to interpret Ball’s comments as a shot at his old team.

Lonzo Ball agrees to four-year, $85 million contract with Bulls

Lonzo Ball

The Chicago Bulls are getting their playmaking point guard in the form of Lonzo Ball.

Ball’s agent, Rich Paul, told Shams Charania of The Athletic that Ball has agreed to a four-year, $85 million contract with the Chicago Bulls. Ball is a restricted free agent, so the New Orleans Pelicans have the right to match the offer. However, they are instead closing in on a sign-and-trade that will bring back Tomas Satoransky and Garrett Temple.

Ball addresses a clear need for Chicago. The team leaned on the likes of Coby White and Satoransky at point guard last season, and neither seemed an ideal fit. White is also out for several months after offseason shoulder surgery, making Chicago’s need even more urgent.

The Bulls have been strongly linked to Ball for a while. The 23-year-old is coming off the best season of his career so far, averaging 14.6 points and 5.7 assists per game while shooting 37.8 percent from three-point range. He should operate in a playmaking role for both Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic.