While the Carmelo Anthony to the Bulls hype continues, Chicago should really be targeting a different free-agent.
Lance Stephenson, the 6’5 shooting guard, is having his best year yet and will have the chance to become a free agent at the end of this year. Stephenson is averaging career highs in points, FG %, rebounds, and assists. The fourth-year player out of Cincinnati is arguably the best all-around player on the market this off-season. Stephenson leads the NBA with four triple-doubles.
The Chicago Bulls preach defense, and Stephenson fits right into the scheme. He has a defensive rating of 99; where the league average is 103.3. He also has the ability to guard big-time scorers like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.
Not only would the guard be a great fit in Chicago, he would be a more valuable asset than Carmelo Anthony. Yes, Carmelo can score, but at an inefficient .453 percent shooting this year; while Stephenson is scoring at a rate of .497 percent, which is superb for a guard. Moreover, the fourth-year guard has the capability to pass the ball (averaging 5.1 assists). The 6’5 guard is also only 23 years of age, and has yet to hit his prime or fully develop into what he can be. The Chicago Bulls can use all the of youth they can get.
Money wise, Stephenson would be the better choice as well. More than likely, Carmelo Anthony will be asking for the max-contract this off-season. Assuming the Bulls will be amnestying forward Carlos Boozer, Chicago could afford the money Anthony is asking for. However, Stephenson would be at a cheaper price and would allow the Chicago Bulls to look for additional help in the off-season. For example, Chicago could look into re-signing D.J Augustin or finding another role player; because Taj Gibson would move into the starter role. Furthermore, there would be room to get the European star, Nikola Mirotic, over to Chicago. Mike Dunleavy would also move to the bench; who can provide instant scoring.
The signing of the dynamic guard would also allow Jimmy Butler to move back to small forward; where Butler started to blossom last season when Deng was absent. This deal would also take away from Chicago’s rival, the Indiana Pacers, who are considered the favorite to come out of the Eastern Conference.
A potential line-up of Rose, Stephenson, Butler, Gibson, and Noah would be one that could contend for the years to come.