With so little money available to spend on the free agent market, Doc Rivers was always going to have to get creative if he wanted to upgrade the Clippers’ roster ahead of next season. This, of course, means exploring any and all trade avenues. Late Monday afternoon, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports dropped this unexpected #WojBomb on us:
Yahoo Sources: Clippers, Hornets discussing a trade centered on Lance Stephenson. http://t.co/cDDCNs2Pn7
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 15, 2015
Woj reports that in exchange for Stephenson the Clippers would send both Matt Barnes and Spencer Hawes to Charlotte. Last summer, the Hornets inked the mercurial Stephenson to a three-year deal worth $27 million. The then-23-year-old was coming off a breakout season with the Indiana Pacers, and seemed like a natural fit to help an up-and-coming Charlotte team.
Well…things didn’t go quite according to plan. Stephenson struggled to fit-in all year long, and finished the year nearly out of the rotation. In 61 games, he shot a putrid 37% from the field, and an even more appalling 17% from three-point range. It was a meteoric drop-off after he shot nearly 50% from the floor and a respectable 35% from deep the season prior while with the Pacers.
It was clear even before the trade deadline that the fit was not ideal, and there were rumors that Charlotte was already looking to dump him. He found success as a sort of ball-handling, do-it-all combo guard in Indiana on a team that finished atop the Eastern Conference in 2013-14. The Hornets’ roster is essentially a cast of ill-fitting parts, and Lance was never able to find his way.
So, perhaps a change of scenery is exactly what the doctor ordered for him. As for the Clippers, they’d be potentially sending out their own free agency flop from last season in Hawes, who also fell out of the rotation for L.A. Barnes was arguably the team’s top perimeter defender last season, but he’s 35 and far from what you’d call an “untouchable” asset.
Stephenson is still incredibly young (he’ll turn 25 before next season), and Doc Rivers must believe there’s plenty of untapped potential here. He’s set to make about $9 million next season, and then has a team option for the same amount the next year. So, if he comes to Los Angeles and underperforms, the team wouldn’t be saddled with him in the long-term.
Lance is versatile enough to play all three wing positions, though his natural position is shooting guard. One would imagine (if he does come to L.A.) that he’d be slotted in as the team’s third guard and primarily come off the bench.
UPDATE: And, according to Woj, it’s done.
The Clippers have acquired Lance Stephenson in a trade that sends Spencer Hawes and Matt Barnes to Charlotte, league sources tell Yahoo.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 16, 2015
About the Author
Written by Taylor Smith
Taylor Smith is a writer for the Los Angeles Clippers.