As expected, a number of notable NBA players found new homes when free agency began on Monday night, one of them being Lonzo Ball, who will join the Chicago Bulls as a part of a sign-and-trade agreement with his now-former team, the New Orleans Pelicans. Ball should pair nicely with Zach LaVine, and he’ll certainly be paid handsomely over the next four years. In fact, Ball will make more money over the next four seasons in Chicago than Michael Jordan did in his six NBA title-winning seasons with the Bulls.
Lonzo Ball will make $85 million over the next four years with the Chicago Bulls
Ball was connected with several teams heading into free agency as not many people thought the Pelicans’ qualifying offer of $14.4 million would be enough to keep him in town, which it obviously wasn’t.
As part of a sign-and-trade, Ball was shipped to the Bulls and will make $85 million over the next four years. In return, Chicago is sending Garrett Temple, Tomas Satoransky, and a future second-round pick to New Orleans. Ball averaged about $8.23 million in salary over the first four years of his career and now sees that average jump to $21.25 million, making him the second-highest-paid player on the team behind only Nikola Vucevic.
Ball will make more money in four seasons with the Bulls than Michael Jordan did in his six NBA title-winning seasons in Chicago
To put into perspective just how inflated NBA salaries have become, we compared what Ball will make in four seasons with the Bulls with what Jordan made during his time in the Windy City. Now, keep in mind that we’re only looking at NBA salaries here, not endorsement money.
As mentioned, Ball will make $85 million over the next four years. Over the course of 14 years in Chicago (Jerry Reinsdorf continued to pay MJ during his retirement from 1993 to 1995), Jordan made a combined total of $91,742,500. In his six NBA title-winning seasons, Jordan made a combined total of $76,880,000. And $63,280,000 of both of those totals came from MJ’s final two years in the Windy City, which were the only two years of his NBA career in which he made more than $4 million.
Jordan made an additional $2,030,000 with the Washington Wizards, bringing his total career earnings (on the court) to $93,772,500, meaning Ball will make nearly as much as Jordan did in his entire career over the next four years.
So that’s fun.
He should fit in quite nicely in the Windy City
With his first two teams, Ball found himself in the exact same situation. As a rookie with the Lakers in 2017-18, he was in control of the offense as more of a true point guard. But when LeBron James entered the mix, Ball didn’t handle the ball as much.
And things went the same way with the Pelicans. He was more a true point guard in his first year in New Orleans but spent much of this past season as an off-the-ball wing player as Zion Williamson spent more time at the point than he did as a rookie.
With the Bulls, Ball can move back to his natural position as a facilitator while still serving as a scorer when necessary. Ball averaged a career-high 14.6 points per game in 2020-21 and also averaged career highs in field goal percentage (.414), 3-point percentage (.378), and free throw percentage (.781). He also had a career-low 14.5 turnover percentage. His assists were down a bit, 5.7 from 7.0 the previous season, but that stat should rise as he’ll be in control of the Chicago offense.