May 30, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson (1) wipes his face during a game against the Miami Heat in game six of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Swarm and Sting Round-Table: Lance Stephenson


The Charlotte Hornets signed Lance Stephenson to a 3 year, $27 million dollar contract on Wednesday, and everyone in Charlotte is excited for the upcoming season. There is definitely a buzz around Charlotte!

Here at Swarm and Sting we have done a few Round-tables in the past about the NBA Draft and the Off-season. This one is about the Lance Stephenson signing.

Participating in this Round-table is Swarm and Sting’s Andrew Snyder, H.T. Wells, Adam Lutterloh, Nathan Miller, Will Young, Andy Moore, Brett Thompson, and Cory Suttles.

1. How excited were you when you heard Lance Stephenson signed with the Hornets?

Andrew Snyder -  I was pumped. I woke up early for work and I let out a yelp as soon as I read the news (it woke up my roommate). Then I immediately wrote down my thoughts and posted it on Swarm and Sting ASAP. Needless to say I was very excited. 

H.T. WellsNervous excitement. Lance hasn’t had a lot of off court issues. But, it does worry me that his Indiana teammates were sick of him. Team chemistry is extremely important.

Adam Lutterloh –  10/10.  I had a feeling Charlotte would get a deal done when I heard about the meeting last night in Las Vegas.  Seeing the deal come together so quickly was great.  It shows that Michael Jordan is truly committed to fielding a competitive team this season.

Andy MooreI was pretty excited! I was hoping to see the team bring in a big talent to build off their momentum from last year and this certainly does it.

Brett Thompson – I found out via text message at 6:30 AM, so I didn’t really believe it at first.  When I finally woke up and saw the details, I REALLY couldn’t believe it.  I’m excited to have a “SportsCenter star” in Charlotte, and I’m excited for the price Rich Cho landed him for.

Will YoungI was very excited for Charlotte. After Big Al signed, last year, they go to the playoffs, the name change and the draft, I felt like they needed to close this summer with a good free agent signing. How many times have the Hornets had the #1 story on SportsCenter? Not very often. It’s a questionable signing to some, but I feel like Clifford and Cho can make it work. A lot will depend on what leadership he has in the locker room. Big Al will help with this.

Nathan MillerI was very excited when the Hornets signed Lance. He fills a lot of needs the team has, and is a great fit. They also got him for a great price considering what other players of his caliber are receiving this year. I was afraid we may have to over pay after seeing what he turned down from Indian, but we got a great deal!

Cory Suttles – Like our recent draft pick PJ Hairston, Lance Stephenson has NBA talent with an attached asterisk. Off court (and sometimes on court) antics can overshadow skills that these players bring to the team. For example, Lance Stephenson played incredible defense and brought versatility on the offensive end to Indiana during last season’s playoffs. Ask a casual NBA fan what they remember about Lance Stephenson though and the first thing to be brought up will be him blowing in LeBron’s ear. Thankfully, Stephenson has been pretty quiet off the court after being in some hot water with the police early in his career. I am cautiously optimistic about signing Lance, hoping that he continues to mature and learn from his mistakes. The most exciting part of signing Lance is his contract, which is a three year / $27 million deal with a team option in the third year. This gives Charlotte flexibility throughout the deal while getting Stephenson’s services at a comparative value.

2. How does Lance Stephenson fit with the Hornets? Does this signal the end for Gerald Henderson’s days in Charlotte? Or CDR?

Andrew Snyder – Lance is a great fit in Charlotte. Solid defender, good shooter, good rebounder, and an explosive play-maker. He gives them versatility on the wing they lacked last season. I think Gerald will shift to the bench and that CDR has likely played his last game in Charlotte. This move is perfect because Henderson to the bench makes the bench much-much better.

H.T. Wells – Lance’s toughness, tenacity, playmaking, and perimeter defense will all be assets for the Hornets. He does not solve the perimeter shooting issues but he will allow Kemba Walker to play off the ball some. I don’t think spells the end for Gerald, as I feel Gerald is better used as a 2nd unit guy. He is a good tough vet who should thrive in a lesser role. CDR, on the other hand.

Adam Lutterloh – In terms of the best five combinations of players Charlotte puts on the floor, Lance fits very well.  He can space the floor for Big Al, take some of the play-making burden away from Kemba, and will join MKG to make a fearsome defensive back-court.  Henderson’s spot is the question mark.  Hendo may be amenable to the sixth man role, where I think he could thrive.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see Henderson traded before the season either.  I don’t see a future for CDR, or Jeff Taylor, on this team, unfortunately.

Andy Moore – Lance should immediately start next to Kemba in the backcourt. Stephenson, Henderson, Kidd-Gilchrist, Neal, Taylor, Hairston plus Williams possibly playing at the 3 means ideally someone would be traded. Henderson is the one who should be moved. I’d offer him to Indiana for Scola’s voidable contract and move on. I like CDR but no room for him with this roster.

Brett Thompson – Lance Stephenson is a fantastic fit in Charlotte.  He is highly regarded as a two-way player who can defend in transition, which makes him perfect for Steve Clifford’s defense.  I think this may signal the end of Gerald Henderson, just because it is difficult for any player to go back to the bench after playing in a starting role as long as he did.  As for CDR, the Hornets bench just got deeper, which will result in less minutes for him.  If someone offers the right contract, I could see him bolting.

Will Young – I think he will fit very well. A problem most anaylsts have with Kemba Walker is they don’t think he is a true point guard. Something he needs beside him is a guy that can create, distribute the ball and score. Lance does all three of those things. I think he might be better outside of Indiana. He will get better shots because of the much improved post game of Big Al compared to Hibbert and West. That’s the big question about Hendo. He’s been here for awhile and seen the good (first playoff run) and the bad (7 wins in 2011). I think he would be looking for a change of scenery if the Hornets are trying to replace him, but maybe it was always in the cards to have both of them. It’s less likely that CDR comes back. I would imagine another big and a 3rd point guard are higher on the list, especially with 4 shooting guards now on the roster.

Nathan Miller – Lance is a great fit for the Hornets. He helps keep the ball moving, something we would have been lacking with the loss of Mcroberts. He also brings much needed outside shooting, and energy. I believe this signals the end of Henderson but not CDR due to his ability to play the 3 spot.

Cory Suttles – Stephenson is a perfect fit within Steve Clifford’s defensive scheme. Lance is already a well-above-average defender, displayed as he slowed down LeBron James many times in the Eastern Conference Finals. Along with his defensive prowess, Stephenson also brings a much needed offensive punch as he shot 49.1% from the field and 35.2% from three. Along with that, Stephenson is a talented passer averaging an impressive 4.6 assists per game. Steve Clifford also loves his team to push it in transition, and Stephenson excels at running and finishing after the defensive rebound.

Many fans have been calling for the Hornets to add a starter at shooting guard effectively relegating Gerald Henderson to a sixth man role. In my opinion, Henderson would excel coming off the bench, adding energy and continuing the defensive pressure the starters had applied. With a glut of shooting guards currently under contract (Stephenson, Henderson, Hairston, Neal) I do not see the Hornets resigning him.

3. Would you rather have Gordon Hayward or Lance Stephenson?

Andrew Snyder – This is a tough one. I’d probably rather have Hayward, but not at the price he would have come at. Hayward is a solid player, but he is not worth a max contract. I like the combo of signings Charlotte has made better than only signing Hayward alone. Both guys are excellent players, but I think things have turned out for the best.

H.T. Wells – Tough call. I’d rather have a mature Lance Stephenson. He’s been on deep playoff runs against the best in the league. He led the league with 5 triple doubles last year. Hayward actually regressed in his shooting last year and is not the defender or playmaker that Lance is. Also, Lance’s contract is a bit more friendly.

Adam Lutterloh – If we are considering the price the Hornets had to pay for their services, then I’d take Stephenson in a heartbeat.  Three years, $27 million is much more team friendly than the 4 year, $63 million contract offered to Hayward.  Lance may come with more headaches, but he’s more talented and adds a level of grittiness the Hornets need to make a deep playoff run.

Andy Moore – It’s close. But what isn’t close is how much less this contract will cost Charlotte and the flexibility with Stephenson, Williams, Roberts, and MKG off coming off in 2016. This is a better deal.

Brett Thompson – I would rather have Gordon Hayward for his 3 point shot, but if we’re talking contracts, I’ll take Lance Stephenson over him in a heartbeat.  3 years/$27 million is a steal for a player who was offered 5 years/$44 million by a legitimate NBA Title contender, and keeps the Hornets under the cap, even after signing Marvin Williams.

Will YoungWould you rather have Gordon Hayward or Lance Stephenson? I was a big Hayward guy, but I like Lance’s defense a lot more. If you take out the emotional issues, I think they are pretty even. But for the money, Charlotte got the better deal. 

Nathan Miller – I would much rather have Lance than Hayward. He has shown better consistency shooting the three ball, and came at a much better value than Hayward. Giving a player that has been regressing in shooting percentage a max contract was very risky.

Cory Suttles – There are many things that factor into who would be a better fit for a team. Contractually, Stephenson is obviously a better deal. The Hornets will pay Lance around $7 million less a year than they would have paid Hayward had the Jazz declined to match the offer sheet. Also, Stephenson is a much better defender than Hayward is currently. Unbeknownst to most, Stephenson was actually considerably better from the field and three point range than Hayward was last year. Hayward shot 41.3% from the field and only 30.4% from three. The only advantage Gordon has to Stephenson is his high character, locker room leadership, and his prior relationship with Hornets’ star Al Jefferson. Considering all of this, I think Stephenson is the better option.

4. Where do you rank the Charlotte Hornets in the East after the Lance Stephenson signing?

Andrew Snyder – Right now in the East I have 1. Chicago (with a healthy Rose), 2.Cleveland, 3. Miami 4. Indiana, 5. Toronto, 6. Charlotte, 7.Washington, 8. New York. Charlotte’s ceiling is probably around the 4 seed, but at worst they get into the playoffs again as the 7 seed in an increasingly competitive Eastern Conference. This season is going to be fun, get your popcorn ready!

H.T. WellsI’d say the Eastern Conference is incredibly jumbled at this point. The loss of Lance hurts Indiana from a talent perspective. The addition of Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic make the Bulls more dangerous. LeBron in Cleveland. Give me the Hornets as the 5th – 6th best team in the East today. 

Adam Lutterloh – I’ll guess fifth.  Assuming everyone is healthy, the Cavs and Bulls are the clear top-two teams.  After that, it’s Charlotte, Washington, Miami, Brooklyn, Indiana and Toronto in some order.  I think Charlotte lands somewhere in the middle of that bunch.

Andy Moore – Before the signing I had doubts about even making the playoffs. But now I think Charlotte is close to a top 5 team in the East. This year the team should not only win their first playoff game, but possibly their first series.

Brett Thompson – The Hornets have to be in the discussion for the 2 seed in the Eastern Conference now.  The Cavaliers have the 1 seed locked with their young roster, led by LeBron, but the rest of the East is wide open now, especially after Charlotte stole a valuable piece from the Pacers.  The Hornets can and should win their division, and they should have home court advantage in a Playoff series for the first time since the expansion.

Will Young – I would have to keep Chicago, Cleveland and Washington in front of them for now. I legitimately think they can contend for the 4th or 5th seed this season. Cody Zeller is the x-factor. If he plays like the #4 pick from 2013, the Hornets can really compete with a lot of the teams in the east. If not, I think they will finish closer to where they did last year (6th – 8th seed). They might want to look into some veteran power forward options before finishing the summer.

Nathan Miller – I believe after this signing we are a top 5 team in the east but in order to improve over last year a significant amount we must acquire a starting power forward.

Cory Suttles – The power is shifting in the Eastern Conference, as LeBron took his talents back to where they began, but other teams are getting better as well. The Heat have filled out their roster nicely in LeBron’s absence, the Wizards continue to improve on their impressive season last year with the addition of Paul Pierce, and the Chicago Bulls are vastly improved with Pau Gasol and hopefully a healthy Derrick Rose. With that said, The Hornets have had quite an impressive offseason, adding underrated veterans and talented rookies. Before the Stephenson signing though, the Hornets were probably going to be looking to make a slight jump from the seventh seed that they earned last year. With Lance, they have the opportunity to make it into a top four seed in the East. Last season, Charlotte hung their hat on solid team defense (sixth in the league), ball security (least turnovers in the league), and an inside-out style of offense. Stephenson should add even more pressure on the defensive end and stretch the floor for Al Jefferson. Barring a major injury, a top four seed for the Hornets is definitely not out of the question.

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