In the summer of 2010, the Chicago Bulls did their best to court both LeBron James and Dwyane Wade into coming to play in Chicago. When that effort fell short, the Bulls turned their efforts and available cap room to the second tier of free agents, eventually signing Carlos Boozer to a five-year, $75million deal.The Bulls could be in a similar situation this summer.
Theoretically, James, Wade, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony and Pau Gasol could all be free agents this summer. But if history repeats itself, the Bulls could be on the outside looking in on the marquee names this offseason.
Like in 2010, the Bulls will also be looking at the second tier of available free agents, and could very possibly sign multiple players in this region to help fill the team’s already star studded roster. Of all the names associated with the second tier, one player in particular could flourish within the Bulls system, as well as help the team on the court from day one.
That player is Lance “the 8th Grader” Stephenson.
Stephenson has been quoted saying that he would like to stay with the Indiana Pacers after this season, and with Larry Bird heading up basketball operations, I don’t blame him whatsoever.
But the Bulls have the ability to overpay Stephenson; a luxury the Pacers do not have. Stephenson is a dynamic player who can both score and facilitate on the offensive end. The Bulls would be able to run the offense through both him and Joakim Noah, allowing Derrick Rose to pick his moments to be explosive and get to the rim.
He’s an irrational confidence guy who isn’t afraid to stir the pot on the court or with the media. He is still a young player with plenty to learn, but being in a system and locker room with Noah and Rose at the helm could help him mature as a player and person. He’s a gifted young talent who all 30 teams will be looking to add to their roster, but the fit couldn’t be more better for him than in Chicago. It’s a no nonsense team that is hungry for a championship.
The addition of Stephenson would add another dimension to this team offensively, which was the worst in the NBA last season, and would allow the Bulls to send out four elite defenders in the starting lineup.
Pursuing “the 8th Grader” should be high on the Bulls’ offseason check list, regardless if they are able to sign a top tiered free agent or not. Outside of Anthony and James, Stephenson can bring a level of offensive output and tenacity that no one else hitting the market this summer can bring. And that makes him worth overpaying.