The Los Angeles Lakers have won the biggest prize of the 2018 NBA free agency when they succeeded in signing LeBron James to a four-year deal worth $153.3 million. Still having a huge salary cap space after acquiring James, the Lakers were expected to chase another big name in the free agency market. Unfortunately, they ended up signing three role players, including LeBron’s mortal rival Lance Stephenson.
Most people are shocked by the Lakers’ decision to bring Lance Stephenson in Los Angeles, knowing his numerous on-court altercations with LeBron James. The bad blood between James and Stephenson started during the Eastern Conference finals matchup between the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers in 2014. LeBron has been the No. 1 victim of Stephenson’s antics, and the most memorable thing he did was when he blew into James’ ear.
NBA fans once again witnessed the James-Stephenson rivalry in the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs where the Cleveland Cavaliers faced the Pacers. As expected, Stephenson was tasked to defend James and did everything he could to distract the best player on the planet. With their on-court history, it is easy to understand why fans can’t imagine them playing together in one team.
However, the new king of Los Angeles doesn’t seem to have any problem teaming up with Lance Stephenson next season. Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times revealed that before Stephenson reached an agreement with the Lakers, his agent first called James’ camp to see if he’s okay having him on the team.
“If you worried about chemistry between LeBron James and Lance Stephenson, here’s reason for optimism. They’ve had some battles, but Stephenson’s agent called Rich Paul to make sure LeBron was ok with him coming, sources tell me and @BA_Turner”
JaVale McGee and Lance Stephenson will be joining King James in LA. https://t.co/3RTlgK94MH— CBS Los Angeles (@CBSLA) July 2, 2018
As of now, it is safe to say that there will be no any problem having LeBron James and Lance Stephenson in one team. However, it still remains a mystery why the Lakers chose to sign Stephenson. In order to maximize James’ effectiveness on the court, the Lakers definitely know that they need to surround him with shooters. Stephenson is an aggressive player on the offensive end of the floor, but he has been very inconsistent, especially on the three-point range.
In the 82 games he played with the Pacers last season, Stephenson averaged 9.2 points and 5.2 rebounds on 42.7 percent shooting from the field and 28.9 percent from beyond the arc. Stephenson’s fit in Los Angeles is undeniably a big question, but it is exciting to see how he can help James win an NBA championship title next season.