Four or five teams have let the Hornets know they have strong interest in acquiring Lance Stephenson, sources tell Shams Charania of RealGM. The shooting guard wouldn’t mind if he wound up on the Nets, who are talking about trades involving their three most highly paid players, but Stephenson has made it clear to Charlotte that he wants to be part of a turnaround after a 6-15 start to the season, Charania hears. Stephenson and the Hornets share a mutual belief their partnership can still work, Charania also hears.
There’s been “fluctuating trust” in the Charlotte locker room this season, Charania writes. The Hornets have been aggressive in trade talks of late, as Grantland’s Zach Lowe reported on the first of the month, adding that few would be surprised if the Hornets had brought up Stephenson’s name in those discussions. Charlotte can’t trade Stephenson until Monday, the date that most offseason signees become eligible for inclusion in swaps. The Alberto Ebanks client inked a three-year, $27.405MM contract in the offseason that was supposed to boost Charlotte another few notches in the Eastern Conference standings after the team grabbed the No. 7 seed last year.
That hasn’t been the case so far, as the 24-year-old’s scoring has dipped from 13.8 points per game last season to 10.5 PPG this year, and he’s followed his 35.2% rate of success from three-point territory in 2013/14 with a disconcerting 15.9% mark this season. The majority of Hoops Rumors readers who voted in a poll last week thought that Charlotte should trade Stephenson. Hornets coach Steve Clifford has sought to temper expectations, declaring last month that while Stephenson has the capacity to become a star, he’s yet to reach that level.
Stephenson is a native of Brooklyn and would like someday to play for the Nets, Charania writes, even if that doesn’t take place immediately. Still, his comfort level is growing in Charlotte, according to Charania, who notes that his play has been better in December.