The Bulls continued collecting warm bodies for the upcoming season, announcing on Thursday that they signed Diamond Stone.
No one said tanking was pretty.
The 6-foot-11 center was originally selected with the 40th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, but was shipped to the Los Angeles Clippers in a draft-night trade. Last season, Stone averaged 1.4 points in 3.4 minutes through seven games, and also played 13 games in the NBA G League in which he averaged 16.2 points and seven rebounds per game.
A 2015 McDonald’s All-American, Stone played one season at Maryland.
So why add him to an already crowded frontcourt, especially with Robin Lopez, Lauri Markkanen and Cristiano Felicio all expected to see minutes at center?
It’s because Lopez’s contract is an attractive one, and he could be the best asset the Bulls have come trade deadline time to land more draft picks.
Not only can Lopez help a playoff team, but is positioned to make $13.7 million this season and $14.3 million in the final year of his deal. The Stone signing is nothing more than insurance on if and when they move Lopez.
If a potential playoff team loses a big man in training camp there’s a good chance that Lopez could have his name tossed around even before the start of the regular season.