After trying and failing to combine Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo last season, the Chicago Bulls look like they’ll be rebuilding this year.
So that means it’s time to start looking to the future and acquiring young talent. The first step in that process came back on June 22, when the Bulls traded Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves (Melo Trimble’s team) for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen.
The second step came Thursday, when Chicago signed former Maryland big man and Penn State destroyer — and future NBA All-Star — Diamond Stone to a partially guaranteed two-year deal.
#Bulls sign Diamond Stone.
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) September 14, 2017
The Bulls will be Stone’s fourth NBA team since he left Maryland after one season. Despite making the All-Big Ten third team, the Wisconsin native was somehow not a lottery pick in the 2016 NBA Draft; instead, he was taken 40th overall by the New Orleans Pelicans, who promptly traded him to the Los Angeles Clippers. After a season in L.A., he was shipped to the Atlanta Hawks on July 6. They decided to waive him for some reason, which is how he ended up on the market again.
The deal with Chicago gives Stone the opportunity to play on the club’s G-League team — the Windy City Bulls — if he does not make the 15-man roster. That’s a nice fallback option to have, but I think Stone should be more worried about when he will become Chicago’s starting center and eventually an NBA Hall of Famer.
The Bulls are lined up to start Robin Lopez down low, but that plan probably won’t come to fruition. Sooner or later, playing in the shadow of his much more talented twin brother Brook will get the best of Robin, sending him into a downward spiral that frees up a starting spot.
Then there’s Bobby Portis. The third-year power forward played for Arkansas in the SEC, which is frankly a truck stop conference compared to the Big Ten. Stone faced off with Michigan State and Wisconsin, while Portis took on Mississippi State, who I just now learned fields a Division I basketball team. Stone should have no problem beating Portis out for minutes.
As far as Markkanen goes, he has been called the second coming of Dirk Nowitzki. However, he is averaging 0.0 points per game in his NBA career. Stone is averaging 1.4. I think the numbers speak for themselves there. Plus, the former Arizona Wildcat is from Finland, which has been rumored to not even exist. Does Markkanen even exist?
Third-year big man Christiano Feliciano is the final post player on the depth chart, but he’s a little shaky at the free throw line compared to Stone. Feliciano is a career 66.4 percent free throw shooter, while Stone has NEVER missed a free throw in his NBA career. That’s right — he’s a perfect 4-for-4 at the charity stripe. Beat that, Rick Barry.
So the Bulls made an incredible move in signing Stone. For a reported $50,000 in guaranteed money, Chicago picked up a perennial All-Star who is sure to average a double-double for many years to come.
I’m not saying Diamond Stone will be better than Michael Jordan, but Stone’s ceiling is most certainly higher than the roof.