NBA Free Agents 2014 Rumors: Chicago Bulls, Lance Stephenson Share Mutual Interest?
- Paul John Rivera
- Jan 24, 2014 01:28 PM EST
The Chicago Bulls are expected to aggressively pursue big name free agents next summer to find a superstar to play alongside Derrick Rose starting next season.
Previous reports indicated that the Bulls were hoping to sign either Miami Heat star LeBron James or the New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony, both of whom could become free agents after the season.
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The Chicago Sun-Times reported that in the event the Bulls fail in their bid to land James or Anthony, the Bulls will go after Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson, who is also expected to become one of the most coveted free agents next summer.
Sports World Report, citing Bulls beat writer Joe Cowely, reported that a Stephenson-to-Chicago scenario looks feasible since the Bulls and the shooting guard share a mutual interest.
The Bulls, who are expected to have enough cap space in the offseason to become one of the most attractive landing spots for free agents, are reportedly willing to invest in Stephenson, who is having a breakout season this year.
Stephenson, who was the 40th overall pick during the 2010 NBA Draft, is averaging 13.7 points to go along with 6.8 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game this season, and is considered one of the main reasons the Pacers are currently on top of the league at this point.
Although the Bulls have James and Anthony on top of their wish list, Stephenson is viewed by the Bulls as their potential starting shooting guard in the years to come, due to his reputation as a player who can spread the floor with his shooting, while also playing a key role on the defensive end of the floor.
The Pacers are not expected to give up easily on Stephenson, though, as previous reports suggested that Indiana is planning to put an $8 million to $9 million per year contract on the negotiation table.
However, sources said that several teams, including the Bulls, are prepared to offer as much as $11 million per year.
The Pacers can offer the same amount, but it will put them over the luxury tax line. The Bulls, on the other hand, can avoid paying luxury tax next season by using their amnesty option to release veteran power forward Carlos Boozer in the offseason.