11:12am: Stephenson is expected to miss between six and 10 weeks following his groin surgery tomorrow, sources tell Scott Kushner of The Advocate (Twitter link).
10:26am: While it’s not official yet, the Pelicans are expected to formally sign Archie Goodwin today, waiving Lance Stephenson to open up a roster spot. However, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein (Twitter links), New Orleans isn’t expected to sever its relationship with Stephenson upon his release.
As Stein details, the Pelicans intend to “participate fully” in Stephenson’s rehab from his groin injury and have told the veteran swingman that they’re open to the idea of re-signing him when he gets healthy. According to Stein, New Orleans didn’t want to cut Stephenson but didn’t see a viable alternative solution.
The Pelicans are currently carrying 14 players on guaranteed contracts, with Stephenson’s deal as the only one that isn’t fully guaranteed. Since they have multiple backcourt players sidelined, the Pelicans needed to make a move in a timely fashion, and according to Stein (via Twitter), the club’s case for a hardship waiver isn’t automatic, since Jrue Holiday is away from the team for personal reasons.
While New Orleans received criticism from some observers, including Stephenson’s former teammate Matt Barnes, for deciding to waive the 26-year-old following his injury, it seems the club is doing everything it can to accommodate his recovery, short of actually keeping him on the roster. Stein tweets that the Pelicans have told Stephenson they’re willing to participate in his injury rehab even if he wants to do it somewhere besides New Orleans.