I was still a little groggy when I woke up on Wednesday. That is, of course, until I saw that the Charlotte Hornets had been working deep into the night to lock up Lance Stephenson for 3 years. Ok, I’m awake. This is really happening. Apparently, the front office didn’t feel any lagging after losing the Gordon Hayward contract. Instead, they continued onward to their next target. In a brilliant move, they decided to forgo the hometown appointment and meet in Las Vegas, where many teams are focused on the Summer League. It happened so fast that it gave other interested teams zero time to react.
The Hornets may have inadvertently benefited from the fallout of Stephenson’s talks with the Indiana Pacers. Larry Bird certainly didn’t give any ground on his stance to offer close to $9 million/yr. Why did he sign with the Hornets for close to the same yearly amount? Stephenson wants to show his worth and will hit free agency at an optimal time. In addition, he also gets to come to a team and be a featured option. Indiana had guys like Paul George and Roy Hibbert running the show. In Charlotte, Stephenson is going to be an important player and a main attraction.
Obviously, this is a guy who knows how to attract attention. The antics have been the talk of the town. From top to bottom, I think the Hornets organization has plenty of people who can help Stephenson along the way, which includes an owner and a coach who expect results. Distractions aside, I love the thought of a player who can bring some passion to his play. It is one thing that the Hornets had in the 90s that made them special.
If you look under the veil of absurdities, there is a player who averaged 13 points, 4 assists and 7 rebounds during the 2013-2014 regular season. Through his first four years, Stephenson’s 3p% steadily rose, culminating with shooting 35% during this year’s playoffs. He is multi-faceted and strong. He is a playmaker that is going to make life easier for Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson. And as if Steve Clifford couldn’t ask for more, he is a tenacious defender.
Because of his status as a free agent and, for better or worse, his actions in the playoffs, Lance Stephenson has blown the lid off the impending excitement in Charlotte. The integrity of the team is really high. The national coverage will not be ignoring Charlotte basketball anymore. This is a legitimate playoff team.