Chicago Bulls' Plan B Options If Carmelo Anthony or Kevin Love Aren't Acquired
It's no secret that the Chicago Bulls would like to add an offensive star to their roster this offseason.
Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Love are the two biggest names that could be available—Anthony via free agency, should he choose to opt out of the final year of his deal, and Love through trade.
Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com confirms the team's interest in both, listing Anthony as its top target.
Unfortunately, superstars like Love and Anthony aren't easy to come by, especially via trade. Chicago would have to move some serious money around in order to sign Anthony, and the team would also have to give up quite a bit in a package for Love.
While the Bulls should certainly try their best to acquire either star, falling short wouldn't make their offseason a failure, either.
Plenty of options remain on the free-agent market and trade block. If Chicago swings and misses on Anthony and Love, these five players would be nice consolation prizes to help bring some offense to the Windy City.
Trevor Ariza, SF, Washington Wizards
2013-14 Stats: 14.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.6 SPG, 15.8 PER
Contract: Unrestricted free agent
Ariza's play was key to the Wizards' turnaround this season, as he started 77 games for Washington at small forward.
Chicago fans caught a glimpse of the 28-year-old as his 15.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game helped lead the Wizards past the Bulls in their opening playoff round.
One key improvement Ariza has made in his game since entering the league has been outside shooting. Ariza connected on a career-best 40.7 percent of his three-pointers this past season, chipping in 2.3 a game. The Bulls ranked in the bottom third of the league in three-point makes, attempts and percentage in 2013-14, per ESPN.com, and could definitely use Ariza to help space the floor and create driving lanes for guys like Rose and Jimmy Butler.
As would be the case for any significant free agent they may sign, the Bulls would likely have to amnesty forward Carlos Boozer and the remaining $16.8 million on his contract.
By doing this, they could add free agent Ariza without having to give up any assets in a potential trade.
Stealing him from an Eastern Conference foe like Washington would be an added bonus.
Eric Gordon, SG, New Orleans Hornets
2013-14 Stats: 15.4 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.1 SPG, 14.9 PER
Contract: Two years, $30.4 million (player option)
Gordon had somewhat of a rebound year in 2013-14, playing in 64 games after knee and ankle surgeries hampered most of his first two years in New Orleans.
John Reid of The Times-Picayune states that Gordon was actually quite durable until late in the season:
Before he was injured in a March 21 game against the Atlanta Hawks, Gordon had totaled the second most minutes on the team with 2,057 and had missed just four games, which included three games in December for a sore right hip.
He also points out that the 25-year-old guard still has plenty to offer when healthy:
Despite facing consistent pressure, Gordon still had games like Jan. 15 against the Houston Rockets when he scored a season-high 35 points on 11-of-17 shooting. In a Jan. 28 game against Cleveland, Gordon scored 20 points, grabbed seven rebounds and had a season-high nine assists.
While the thought of both backcourt members playing on fragile knees would be concerning for those in Chicago, one has to consider what the Bulls would have to give up to acquire Gordon.
In a few words: probably not much.
While Evans may deserve a starting role, there's no way New Orleans will want to pay Gordon, as a sixth man, $15 million a year. There may not be a great trade market for Boozer, but it would be hard to imagine the Pelicans turning him down in a swap for Gordon.
Such a move would save the Bulls their amnesty provision while adding a proven scorer to their rotation.
Lance Stephenson, SG, Indiana Pacers
2013-14 Stats: 13.8 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 4.6 APG, 14.7 PER
Contract: Unrestricted free agent
If Chicago hopes to overtake the Miami Heat as top dog in the East, what better player to bring on board than Stephenson?
Antics aside, the 23-year-old guard made huge strides in all aspects of his game in 2013-14. Stephenson is a nightly triple-double threat who would also fit in nicely into a stout, defensive Chicago team.
Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote back in January that the Bulls would have interest in signing Stephenson:
If they fail to land a star of the magnitude of Anthony or James, there is a consolation prize. The Bulls would love to nab Lance Stephenson from the Indiana Pacers, move Jimmy Butler to the three and add highly touted Nikola Mirotic after using the amnesty clause on Carlos Boozer.
Like Ariza, signing Stephenson would not only be a gain for the Bulls but also a big loss to an opposing East playoff squad.
The next time Chicago meets LeBron James and the Miami Heat in the playoffs, things could get real interesting with Stephenson on board.
Pau Gasol, PF, Los Angeles Lakers
2013-14 Stats: 17.4 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.5 BPG, 19.3 PER
Contract: Unrestricted free agent
Gasol has already stated his interest in possibly joining the Bulls now that he's a free agent.
the Los Angeles Times noted in May that Gasol, "also said the Chicago Bulls, with the return of Derrick Rose and the possible addition of fellow Spaniard Nikola Mirotic, could be an interesting team."
Even though he's 33, Gasol still brings a high skill level along with a lot of playoff and even championship experience. A career 18.3 point-per-game scorer, Gasol's offense would certainly help carry the Bulls, while his lackluster defense would be aided by the presence of Noah.
While it's tough to gauge how much Gasol will be looking to make in a new deal, going to a championship-contending team like Chicago might help earn the Bulls a discount.
Arron Afflalo, SG/SF, Orlando Magic
2013-14 Stats: 18.2 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 3.4 APG, 16.0 PER
Contract: Two years, $15 million (player option)
The Magic are in full rebuilding mode and may be willing to deal Afflalo, 28, this summer.
While he's a great defender, Chicago could really use his outside shooting (42.7 percent) and overall offensive game.
Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel (subscription required) reports that Afflalo "wouldn't mind being moved to a playoff team" and lists the Bulls as a fit due to their need for a scoring wing and their amount of draft picks to offer in return.
Speaking of said picks, Chicago would likely have to part with one of its two first-rounders in the 2014 draft. The Bulls currently own pick Nos. 16 and 19 overall.
At just $7.5 million a season for this year and next (player option), Afflalo is a great value who would improve Chicago immediately while helping out on both ends of the floor.
All salary data provided by Shamsports.
Stats provided by Basketball-Reference unless otherwise noted.