Chicago Bulls: Stanley Johnson free agent signing sensical

(Photo by Cassy Athena/Getty Images)
(Photo by Cassy Athena/Getty Images) /

Digging very deep to find free agency targets for the Chicago Bulls could surface former Pelicans and Pistons SF Stanley Johnson.

There’s a lot of discussion entering this cycle of free agency about what went wrong with the former Detroit Pistons and New Orleans Pelicans wing and lottery pick Stanley Johnson. As he’s headed for unrestricted free agency for the first time in his still young NBA career, Johnson needs a change of scenery and mindset more so than just about any other wing on the open market. This could be the right time for the Chicago Bulls to jump in on a low-risk, medium-reward wing option in free agency.

At the moment, Johnson shouldn’t command more than $5 million in terms of base salary with his next contract out of free agency this year. The Bulls could pretty easily afford to take the risk on him if he’s willing to take a “prove-it” one or two year contract. That would give the Bulls ample time to evaluate how Johnson fits into the growth picture in the long-term.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Johnson was set to hit free agency after the Pelicans declined to extend him a qualifying offer, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent. Charania also mentioned that he “will receive interest from several teams”.

Up until this summer, Johnson was still on his rookie deal. He never made more than $3.94 million in a single season given where he was selected in the 2015 NBA Draft. The more expensive portion of his rookie contract came with the Pelicans too.

However, there are some really appealing traits between Johnson and the Bulls. Chicago Bulls head coach Jim Boylen needs more solid defensive pieces that can play at the two and the three. Johnson would be a nice pairing alongside former Washington Wizards small forward Otto Porter Jr.

There is more firm and proven defensive ability for Johnson than there is to any other backup small forward option Boylen has in the rotation now. Johnson would have a set role carved out for himself in the Windy City.

The problem with Johnson is how little his physical tools and raw athleticism allowed him to translate his skill set to the offensive end of the floor. He’s not even a career 30 percent shooter from three-point range and has a career true shooting percentage at just 47 percent roughly.

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The Bulls would have to overlook the offensive flaws that Johnson brings along with him. Possibly a change of scenery with a growing young supporting cast could help Johnson get on track closer to what NBA scouts were hoping his physical tools would translate to.