NBA rumors regarding free agency have been quiet as of late, but there is still some talent available on the market. Arguably the most gifted NBA player among those unsigned, Lance Stephenson, may be finding a new home soon.
According to Morning News USA, the New York Knicks are close to signing the six-foot-five guard, who last played for the Memphis Grizzlies in 2015-16. Stephenson is from Brooklyn, so landing in New York to play for the Knicks would be a homecoming of sorts for the man also known as “Born Ready.”
The likelihood is that Lance Stephenson would come off the bench for New York, as their starters in the backcourt are expected to be new acquisitions Derrick Rose (obtained in a trade with the Chicago Bulls) and Courtney Lee, who was signed as a free agent this past July. Stephenson could also help with depth behind small forward Carmelo Anthony since he has the size and strength to play limited minutes there, particularly when the Knicks go with a smaller “pace and space” lineup.
As talented and skilled as Lance Stephenson is, there are reasons that he is still unsigned almost two months into the NBA’s 2016 free agency period. There are lingering questions about his maturity, both on and off the basketball court. Stephenson is known to be very unpredictable in terms of his attitude and behavior, and he has a tendency to stray from team concepts and go off on his own while on the floor.
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Stephenson’s brash personality might actually go over well in New York since large media markets typically embrace the outlandish. Inside the locker room, however, Stephenson has the potential to be a problem — and that is a risk any team will have to take if they sign him.
Lance Stephenson’s six-year NBA career has been a roller-coaster ride. He slipped to the second round (40th overall) of the 2010 NBA Draft because teams were scared off by his reputation as a loose cannon. The Indiana Pacers took a gamble on Stephenson, and after bringing him along slowly for a couple years, the gamble started to pay off. He had his best years in Indiana, culminating in a borderline NBA All-Star season in 2013-14. Stephenson had a tremendous all-around campaign, averaging 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game.
At that point, it looked like Lance Stephenson may be headed for stardom, but it was not to be. He spurned a $44 million contract offer from the Pacers to sign a short-term deal with Charlotte, and his one season there was a disaster. Since then, Stephenson has bounced around, logging short stints with the Clippers and Grizzlies before being released by Memphis after the 2015-16 season.
As reported by the Score, Stephenson’s stock has sunk so low that most observers feel he will either have to accept a veteran minimum contract offer or even consider playing overseas in 2016-17 — either would be a far cry from the success and financial security he and his agent envisioned when he was one of the hottest free agents on the market just two years ago.
Lance Stephenson may be the best example of a high-risk, high-reward player in the game today. He has brilliant moments on the court, as well as a slew of unbelievably bad ones. He can appear at times to be getting himself together mentally and emotionally, only to turn on a dime and infuriate everyone around him (once again). From one day to the next, teammates and coaches don’t really know which version of Lance Stephenson will show up — and that kind of volatility wears on team chemistry and, ultimately, makes winning difficult.
The latest NBA rumors state that the New York Knicks are taking a serious look at free agent guard Lance Stephenson. Everything considered, do you think he is worth the risk?
[Photo by Brandon Dill/AP Images]