The NBA free agency period has come and gone for the most part, but there are still a few quality players left on the market. The latest NBA rumors indicate that one of those at or near the top of the list, guard Lance Stephenson, is being pursued by several teams including the New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, and Brooklyn Nets.
Fansided has opined that since the Knicks are making bold moves this summer, they may be able to take yet another step forward by taking a gamble on the talented but temperamental Stephenson. New York has added NBA All-Stars Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah to their lineup, as well as a nice set of complementary players such as guards Courtney Lee and Brandon Jennings. Team president Phil Jackson is clearly in “win now” mode and signing Lance Stephenson is a subtle move that could pay off in a big way.
As part of the Los Angeles Lakers’ post-Kobe rebuilding project, the team has signed some new players, most notably center Timofey Mozgov and forward Luol Deng. The team still has some cap space remaining, and with very few potential impact players left on the free agent market, the Lakers are said to be eyeing Stephenson, per YIBADA. The Lakers are likely years away from being a contender, so taking a shot on a high-risk, high-reward player like Lance Stephenson may be the best thing Los Angeles can do at this point in the offseason.
The Brooklyn Nets are looking for backcourt talent this summer and their original target, Dion Waiters, has signed with the Miami Heat. Sportsrageous reports that the Nets’ best remaining option is probably Lance Stephenson, who also happens to be a Brooklyn native. The Nets are coming off a disastrous 2015-16 season, winning only 21 out of 82 regular season games. Changes have already been made, most of them with an eye toward the future. Guard Randy Foye was signed to give the team some veteran leadership, but former No. 1 overall draft choice Anthony Bennett and forward Caris LeVert are long-term projects the Nets hope to build with.
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Lance “Born Ready” Stephenson offers a unique set of pros and cons to any team who signs him. On the plus side, Stephenson has a great deal of talent and skill. He can play multiple positions and offers size and strength (six-foot-five, 230 pounds) as a wing player.
Stephenson’s ball-handling ability is outstanding, and he is adept at driving to the basket as well as setting up teammates with his savvy passing skills. When he’s locked in, he’s shown to be a very tough one-on-one defender as well. His all-around game is evidenced by the fact that he led the entire NBA in triple-doubles in 2013-14 while playing for the Indiana Pacers.
As much as Stephenson has to offer, he does have some issues on the court, and plenty of baggage off the hardwood. He is very inconsistent in his play — he’ll make a highlight-reel play one moment, and make a horrible one that hurts his team the next. He has a tendency to go off on his own, ignoring team concepts by holding the ball too long and/or making high-risk decisions that rarely turn out well.
Stephenson also has a long history of attitude and behavioral issues that go all the way back to his high school days. NBA teams are very leery to bring in a player who is known to be a “loose cannon,” and Lance Stephenson definitely fits that mold.
NBA rumors indicate that despite the risk that Lance Stephenson presents, several teams are interested in signing him as a free agent including the Knicks, Lakers, and Nets. Which of these teams do you think would be able to get the most out of Lance Stephenson?
[Photo by Brandon Dill/AP Images]