Charlotte Hornets must go all in on Lance Stephenson


There is a lot of buzz around Charlotte about the return of the Charlotte Hornets (pun intended) and everyone is excited for the upcoming season.

I understand all the excitement, as it was time for a change from the Bobcat name that never had much success. But, it’s not like Alonzo Mourning and Larry Johnson are coming back and playing. The Hornets will have the same core players the Bobcats had last year, it’s almost the same team except the addition of Noah Vonleh and P.J. Hairston.

Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan has said he plans on adding another “super-star” to the team like when the team signed Al Jefferson last year in free agency.

Right now the biggest name on the Hornets radar is Lance Stephenson, and I couldn’t be more high on him.  A lot of Hornets fans on Twitter have said they don’t want the team to over-pay for Lance Stephenson, but I am willing to. The Indiana Pacers offered Lance a 5 year, $44 million dollar contract, which Lance turned down. He believes he is worth more than that. I disagree with him on that, he is not worth more than that for the Indiana Pacers, but he is for the Charlotte Hornets, and I will tell you why.

The Indiana Pacers have made the Eastern Conference Finals 2 years in a row, and one year they were one game away from being in the NBA Finals. They have an up-and-coming superstar in Paul George. They have made the playoffs 4 years in a row, appearing in 2 Eastern Conference Finals like I already said. Right now the Pacers have a better chance landing a big time free agent than Charlotte does. Overpaying for Lance Stephenson would be a mistake for Indiana. They have already signed C.J. Miles, so if they lose Lance they can easily reload. The Pacers have an identity, they don’t need Lance Stephenson as much as Charlotte does.

That’s exactly what the new Charlotte Hornets need, an identity.

I am not criticizing the current roster, but they could use another star player. All of the buzz going around Charlotte right now is great and all, but all that excitement is not going to help the Hornets win games next year. As soon as the regular season tips off, all that will matter is who the Charlotte Hornets have on the court, and right now, it’s the same core of players as last year’s team.

Again, there is nothing wrong with last year’s team, but we need more. The Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker duo was fun to watch, but they need another partner-in-crime if they want to go deeper into the playoffs.

I said before that the Indiana Pacers are a better free-agent destination than the Charlotte Hornets, but why is that? Because they win. They’ve gone deep into the playoffs multiple years in a row. They have an identity.

The Charlotte Hornets don’t have an identity, but Lance Stephenson could help change that. Aside from Al Jefferson, the Bobcats never signed any big-name free agents. They attempted to build their team off of draft picks, like the San Antonio Spurs. But almost all of the Bobcats lottery picks were busts, so that strategy never worked out.

If it wasn’t for the lucky bounce of the ping-pong balls at the NBA Draft lottery, the Hornets wouldn’t of gotten the Detroit Pistons draft pick, as it was Top 8 protected. That draft pick ended up being Noah Vonleh, so Charlotte should be very grateful they finally had something go in their favor.

You only get lottery picks if you don’t make the playoffs. Yeah, that is an obvious statement, but how do the Charlotte Hornets plan to rebuild their team if they don’t have good draft picks? We’ve already established the fact it’s tough for Charlotte to land big time free agents, so how do they plan to get better?

Al Jefferson had a great season last year, good enough to be third team All-NBA, but his window is closing. He is 29 years old, and will be 30 at the end of the season. He only has 2-3 more prime years left. Charlotte needs to make the most of it.

The Eastern Conference has never been as weak as it is right now. Miami and Indiana are the 2 best teams, and then the whole conference is pretty much up for grabs. LeBron James might even leave the Heat for a Western conference team like the Houston Rockets. If that’s the case, then the Eastern Conference is literally wide open.

Even if LeBron stays put, if the Hornets sign Lance Stephenson, he could make them the 3rd seed in the Eastern conference, or maybe even the 2 seed. If Charlotte gets Lance, then that makes the Pacers more vulnerable, and the Hornets might be able to beat Indiana in a 7-game series.

Lance Stephenson is a great addition basketball wise, but many are concerned with his off-the-court issues. But I am not one of those people.

We all remember when Lance blew in LeBron’s ear during the NBA Playoffs. A lot of people freaked out about it, but I didn’t. As unprofessional as that might have been, I found it funny and clever.

A lot of Carolina Panthers fans were upset with the team for letting go of Wide Receiver Steve Smith because of his “distractions” and “behavior issues.” Panther fans loved his energy and passion Steve Smith brought to the team, and were upset to see him leave. Lance Stephenson would bring the same thing to the Charlotte Hornets. Charlotte couldn’t be too concerned about behavior issues, as they acquired P.J. Hairston in the NBA Draft, who has been known to be a trouble-maker.

The last place the Charlotte Hornets need to be stuck in is mediocrity. Like the Atlanta Hawks for example. They’re good enough to make the playoffs every year, but that’s about it. Since they make the playoffs almost every year, they get no lottery picks to help improve the team, and they struggle to land big-time free agents.

Unless something unexpected happens, the Hornets will be in the playoffs next year, which means no lottery pick. If they want to get better NOW, they must do it via free agency. Lance Stephenson is their best option right now, and they must go all in on Lance.

Adding Lance would put Charlotte in contention for the No.3 seed in the East, giving them a legit shot at the Eastern Conference finals. A Kemba Walker and Lance Stephenson back-court would be fun to watch as well. Kemba Walker, Lance Stephenson, Noah Vonleh, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, P.J. Hairston, and Cody Zeller are a great young core of players to help rebuild your team with. The oldest player being Kemba Walker, with a young 24 years of age, and Lance is 23.

In conclusion, I believe the Charlotte Hornets must do everything possible to sign Lance Stephenson. Is he worth $14 million dollars right now? No. But the Hornets are in desperate need for another star, and Lance fits that bill. He brings energy and a passion to win. He’s only 23 years old right now, so he has yet to play his best basketball, in a few years he might be worth $14-$15 million.

Be sure to check out another article I wrote about Lance Stephenson, titled: Charlotte Hornets sales pitch to Lance Stephenson

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