The Lance Stephenson experiment hasn’t gone as planned and the Charlotte Hornets appear to have buyer’s remorse. Per reports, the team is fielding trade offers for their star shooting guard and will consider moving him for the right offer.
The Hornets just signed Stephenson to a massive deal in free agency this summer, but after a slow start that has included a lot of losing and not much efficiency out of Stephenson, they appear to want to already move on. It’s a bit of a knee-jerk reaction to some, but the Hornets are desperate for outside shooting and scoring in general, so committing minutes to a player who lacks offensive polish clearly isn’t something they would like to keep doing.
You can’t blame the Hornets for being bummed about Stephenon’s start, as the former Pacers guard has jumped out to a sluggish first year in Charlotte, averaging just 10.4 points per game on 38% shooting. This comes after a breakout 2013-14 campaign with the Indiana Pacers that saw Stephenson leap to a career high 13.8 points per game, along with a stellar 49% shooting from the floor. The initial thinking was that the 24-year old Stephenson was simply scratching the surface of his potential in Indiana, and that was thrust into a bigger role, he could thrive as a superstar. That simply hasn’t come to fruition.
The Hornets had to wait until Stephenson became eligible to trade on Monday, but now that he can be, the Lance Stephenson rumors should start flying. Charlotte probably will wait to land the best possible offer, but early signs suggest they may just take anything remotely good to get rid of his deal. Getting rid of Stephenson for even nothing could be regarded as an addition by subtraction, as the Hornets would free up cash and also allow some of their more efficient scorers off the bench to help the offense.
Stephenson’s former team, the Indiana Pacers, jump out as the most likely destination, as he had the perfect role with them over his first four years in the league. Stephenson thrived in Indiana’s system and the Pacers even expressed regret after not trying hard to retain him this past summer. While Stephenson returning to Indy would make a ton of sense, they’re far from the only potential trade partners. The Nets and Clippers both could use help at small forward and are said to have preliminary interest, but other teams could quickly join mix.
Charlotte seems like a lost cause when it comes to the playoffs this year, so keeping or getting rid of Stephenson probably isn’t going to change much. Where Stephenson goes could potentially change things, however, as he is a terrific defender and can help the flow of an offense.