Indiana Pacers’ shooting guard Lance Stephenson certainly was a major storyline in the Eastern Conference Finals between the Miami Heat and Pacers.
Though, the argument could be made that Stephenson was a storyline for the wrong reason. Throughout the series, Stephenson was singled out for actions that included flopping, sneaking into the Heat’s huddle, blowing into LeBron James‘ ear, as well as playfully slapping James.
Stephenson arguably was more of a distraction for the Pacers because of the aforementioned actions than he was an asset because of his production on the court. Because of that reason there has been some question over whether or not Stephenson will return to the Pacers next season.
Larry Bird, who operates as the Pacers’ president of basketball operations, indicated that he has interest in Stepehenson returning to the Pacers next season.
Stephenson certainly is talented. The 23-year old Stephenson averaged 13.8 points per game while starting for the Pacers last season and shooting nearly 50 percent from the field. Needless to say, the potential is there for Stephenson to grow into a top tier guard in the NBA.
Stephenson is set to become a free agent this season and could draw interest from the Chicago Bulls.
The Bulls are in desperate need of a shooter and Stephenson would certainly fit the bill.
In his first full season as a starter, Bulls’ shooting guard Jimmy Butler has proved to be inconsistent as a shooter. While there certainly is a case to be made that Butler can improve with a healthy Derrick Rose returning, the Bulls likely will want to avoid risking the chance that Butler continues to be inconsistent.
In an off-season that has the Bulls heavily linked to Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Love, Stephenson may be seem as a step down from the team’s top two targets. But, considering the outside chances that the Bulls have at acquiring Anthony or Love, Stephenson also may be the most realistic option for the Bulls in the off-season.