Clippers Acquire Lance Stephenson

NBA: Preseason-Orlando Magic at Charlotte Hornets

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

8:34pm: The move is official, the Clippers and Hornets have announced.

8:19pm: The NBA has approved of the deal, according to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer, although neither team has yet to officially announce the transaction (Twitter link).

7:22pm: The teams have agreed to the trade, Marc Stein of tweets. The trade is on track to be completed as early as tonight, Stein also tweets. The deal would make Stephenson a Clipper in exchange for Hawes and Barnes. The move indicates that Rivers believes DeAndre Jordan will return to the team, Arash Markazi of tweets. The Clippers lost confidence in Hawes, and Rivers was never high on Barnes, Markazi also tweets.

6:25pm: It’s Doc Rivers‘ call now, as the Hornets are ready to move forward with the deal, tweets Bonnell, who cites multiple sources.

5:45pm: A decision on the potential deal is expected within the next 48 hours, Chris Broussard of tweets. While the Hornets are ready to pull the trigger, the Clippers are still deliberating, according to Broussard.

5:30pm: The idea goes back to the trade deadline, tweets Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. It’s unclear whether that’s a reference to Wojnarowski’s report about the Clippers scouting Stephenson around that time or if the clubs were indeed talking as far back as February.

5:05pm: The Clippers and Hornets are discussing a trade proposal that would send Lance Stephenson to Los Angeles for Spencer Hawes and Matt Barnes, league sources told Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. The conversation has been ongoing for several days, but no deal is imminent, Wojnarowski cautions. Such a trade would provide the Hornets a chance to escape from their contract with Stephenson, though it would give Charlotte relatively little in return. Stephenson would afford the Clippers the sort of depth and upgrade on the wing that their playoff collapse against the Rockets exposed as a need, providing he returns to the form he displayed with the Pacers, as Wojnarowski notes.

The salaries would match nearly perfectly, whether or not the Clippers and Hornets swap those players this month or in July, when next season’s salary figures take effect. Hawes and Barnes are scheduled to make a little more than $9.086MM next season after combining for about $8.701MM this year. Stephenson is on the books for $9MM this season and another $9MM in 2015/16, with a $9.405MM team option for 2016/17 that would give the Clippers an out after only one season if the mercurial shooting guard can’t reboot his career in L.A., as Wojnarowski points out. In any case, the chance to reap much higher upside for about the same money no doubt intrigues Clippers coach/executive Doc Rivers.

The Clippers scouted Stephenson shortly before the trade deadline and did some legwork on him earlier in the season, as Wojnarowski reported then, but it didn’t appear as though L.A. was interested in making a play for him just yet. The Nets and Hornets reportedly discussed proposals involving the Brooklyn native on at least two different occasions this past season, but no deal came to fruition. The Heat were apparently among the teams with interest back in December.

Hawes is also coming off a disappointing season, and his contract, which has three years and more than $17.347MM left on it, including a player option for 2017/18, could prove too rich for Charlotte’s tastes, though that’s just my speculation. Barnes’ salary of nearly $3.523MM is only guaranteed for $1MM next season, however.

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