While the Pacers are struggling in the playoffs; one player seems to be finding his way out of Indiana soon. Lance Stephenson, who once was a “key to the future” according to Pacers’ front office, now has a questionable future with the team. Earlier in the year, Indiana center Roy Hibbert said the team was selfish, but he was actually targeting Stephenson. There has also been clear chemistry issues with the team core of Hibbert, Paul George, and Stephenson. If the 23-year old guard decides to test the free agent market; a possible destination could be the Chicago Bulls.
Superstar Carmelo Anthony also seems to be a popular decision for Chicago; Lance Stephenson would be the smarter choice… and cheaper. The Knicks forward averaged 27.4 PPG this season, but throwing up about 21 shots per game (21.3). That is not efficient. Furthermore, Anthony’s shooting percentage was .452%; which is .039% less than Lance Stephenson (.491%). The Pacers’ guard also tied Joakim Noah for the most triple doubles in the NBA this season. Over the whole season, the Indiana guard had a +/- rating of +380, while Anthony only had +108. Additionally, Stephenson is only 23 years of age and is still developing his offensive game; while Anthony is 29, and will be 35 or 36 by the end of his deal if Chicago decides to go that route.
On the defensive side of the ball, Stephenson has the advantage over Anthony. Much like Bulls guard Jimmy Butler, Stephenson has the ability to guard the opposing teams best scorer. Not only is that good for Chicago, but that could also give Butler a break, allowing him to focus on his offensive game. Moreover, adding Stephenson would allow Butler to move back to small forward; where he is most comfortable.
Money-wise, signing Stephenson instead of Melo’ makes more sense. Anthony will be expecting a max contract; therefore suffocating the Bulls cap space and not allowing them to build more around Carmelo. On the other hand, Lance Stephenson isn’t worth a max contract, thus allowing Chicago to possibly re-sign D.J Augustin, bring over foreign player Nikola Mirotic, and take a chance on adding a bench scorer like Jodie Meeks or Vince Carter. All of this would be happening assuming Carlos Boozer will be amnestied this summer.
However, there is also a negative to signing Lance Stephenson. Stephenson is notorious for being a hot-head, better yet a locker room problem. He has reportedly started locker room fights this season. Thibodeau has a strict system, and it is evident that Chicago’s head-coach can teach Stephenson how things are run in his locker room and on his team. The Bulls also have a culture of winning and confidence, something that could mold the 23-year old guard into something special. None the less, his chippy attitude is something Chicago is missing. On the other side, Carmelo is not known for a being a team player; he also has trouble making players around him better. As of right now, Anthony’s playoff record stands at a mere 23-42 (.354%). There is no doubt that Chicago needs scoring help, but they don’t need a player who scores 27 points a night on 10-24 shooting… every night. Also, chemistry issues might occur if Anthony doesn’t buy into Thibodeau’s offense.
There are positives and negatives to signing Lance Stephenson, but he is the answer for Chicago. Stephenson is an efficient scorer, a better all-around player, and a better defender than superstar Carmelo Anthony. Also, in the money perspective, signing the shooting guard allows Chicago to add more pieces to the puzzle.
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