Lance Stephenson

Lance Stephenson Was ’99 Percent’ Set For Pacers Signing

NBA veteran Lance Stephenson was “99 percent” set to sign with the Pacers this past March before the coronavirus pandemic shuttered play until the league’s restart in Orlando, Forbes’ Adam Zagoria writes.

Stephenson, 30, was playing in China for the Liaoning Flying Leopards after signing a one-year pact this past August. In March, it appeared that Stephenson was on track to join Indiana for the third time in his career. However, his agent Reggie Brown confirmed to Zagoria that players who had been in international leagues were not eligible for the Orlando campus, negating the possibility of Stephenson’s NBA return after the hiatus.

“We were in serious conversations for a third-time’s-a-charm return to the Pacers,” Brown said. “We were offered buyout money from the team in China from the Pacers and we were 99 percent done. And then the pandemic took place, and the NBA decided that no overseas players would be allowed to participate in the 22-team bubble return. They would only take players who played last season or this season in the NBA and/or the G League.”

With the Leopards, Stephenson enjoyed a successful campaign, averaging 26.7 PPG and 7.4 RPG before the CBA season was suspended amid the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China. Last season, Stephenson suited up for 68 games as a bench piece for the Lakers.

Pacers Notes: Turner, Oladipo, Stephenson, Roster

Myles Turner is relieved to be able to focus on basketball again after his family’s experience with COVID-19, writes Mark Montieth of NBA.com. Turner’s father had to be quarantined in a bedroom for 10 days after contracting the virus, which made the Pacers center reluctant to support restarting the season.

“I saw it firsthand and how it affected my family and I couldn’t imagine how it’s affected other families,” Turner said Friday in a media session on Zoom. “I definitely wasn’t a big proponent of playing at first. I still have questions now, but most of the questions have been answered.”

Turner changed his mind about the restart after hearing the NBA’s plan to protect the players on the Walt Disney World campus. He turned in some of his best performances of the season just before the hiatus and will be vital to Indiana’s chances of advancing in the playoffs. Turner averaged 15.7 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.7 blocks in the Pacers’ last three games and seems to have figured out how to be effective alongside fellow big man Domantas Sabonis.

“This is what I do for a living,” Turner said. “It gives me my escape at a time like this. I’m trying to win a championship as well. From that standpoint, I’m all in.”

There’s more from Indiana:

  • The Pacers don’t plan to make a roster move even though Victor Oladipo won’t be available in Orlando, tweets J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star. Oladipo will travel with the team to Disney World, so Indiana would have to waive someone else to create a roster opening. Michael adds that the Pacers are focused on “getting out of this in one piece,” rather than making a playoff run.
  • Former Pacer Lance Stephenson won’t be an option if the team decides to add a player, according to Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports (Twitter link). Agness reports that Stephenson was close to signing with the Pacers on the morning the hiatus began because of injuries to Malcolm Brogdon and Jeremy Lamb. However, a source confirms Stephenson is ineligible to join the team in Orlando.
  • All 17 players who were on the roster when the hiatus began will travel to Disney World, Montieth writes in a separate story. That includes two-way players Brian Bowen and Naz Mitrou-Long. “Having all 17 players may be the most important thing, only because it gives them a chance to spend time together and create some bonds that could trickle over into next year,” said president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard.And we’re looking at programming things we can do together to stimulate that.”

Pacers, Lance Stephenson Talking Possible Reunion

Two-time Pacers guard Lance Stephenson is reportedly in “strong talks” for his third tour of duty with the franchise that drafted him with the No. 40 pick in 2010, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium (Twitter link). Charania notes that nothing is finalized yet.

Stephenson could be a helpful addition to a Pacers team that has been depleted at the wing due to a season-ending knee injuries to Jeremy Lamb and a quadriceps injury suffered by Malcolm Brogdon, who is now week-to-week.

Indiana needs all the help it can get. The Pacers are currently the No. 5 seed in the East, but their 38-25 record puts them just 0.5 games ahead of the No. 6 seed Sixers.

Stephenson is currently signed to the Liaoning Flying Leopards of the Chinese Basketball Association, which has postponed all its games amidst the developing coronavirus outbreak. Charania notes that Stephenson will need permission from FIBA and the CBA to leave the Flying Leopards and return to the Pacers.

Stephenson has been working out in the U.S. since January, splitting his time between his hometown of New York City and Indiana in the hopes making an NBA comeback, per Scott Agness of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Along with Paul George, David West, George Hill and Roy Hibbert, the pesky 6’6″ off-guard Stephenson was a core cog on some exciting Pacers teams that pushed the Heat in the playoffs during 2011/12, 2012/13 and 2013/14. The latter two teams battled the Heat in two close Eastern Conference Finals finals contests in 2013 and 2014.

After his initial tenure with the Pacers, Stephenson inked a three-year, $27MM contract with the Hornets instead of a five-year, $44MM deal with Indiana. He then bounced around for stints with the Clippers, Grizzlies, Timberwolves and Pelicans before returning to Bankers Life Fieldhouse in 2017.

Stephenson last played for the Lakers in a disappointing 2018/19 season, in which he averaged just 16.5 MPG and put up 7.2 PPG, 3.2 RPG and 2.1 APG.

Eastern Notes: Lamb, Robinson, Boylen, Robinson

The Pacers aren’t interested in re-signing swingman Lance Stephenson despite Jeremy Lamb‘s season-ending injury, according to Scott Agness of The Athletic. Stephenson is seeking to return to the league and would welcome a reunion, Agness adds. Aaron Holiday, Justin Holiday, Edmond Sumner and Doug McDermott could all see additional playing time to make up for Lamb’s absence.

We have more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Glenn Robinson III isn’t quite sure why the Sixers wanted him, as he told Spencer Davies of Basketball Insiders. Robinson was acquired from the Warriors in a deadline deal. “When you come here and your role’s not really explained or you don’t know what’s going on with the trade — it’s not like it was a trade where you come in and immediately have an impact,” Robinson said. “It’s a little different, so… this team is full of wings, full of guys who can play. So really, I don’t really understand it.” Robinson has an expiring contract after signing for the veteran’s minimum with Golden State last summer.
  • Jim Boylen’s chances of remaining head coach of the Bulls beyond this season rest upon whom the front office hires, as K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports explains. The Bulls plan to restructure the front office and there will be at least one new prominent hire in basketball operations, Johnson continues. While it’s unknown whether the newcomer would determine Boylen’s future, the ability to make that decision would likely be a priority for most attractive candidates, Johnson adds.
  • Shooting guard Jerome Robinson hit a big 3-point shot for the Wizards against the Nets this week as he continues to take advantage of his opportunities, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington writes. Acquired in a three-team deadline deal from the Clippers, Robinson is averaging 5.6 PPG, 3.7 RPG and 1.3 APG in 17.6 MPG in seven games with Washington. Robinson, the 13th pick of the 2018 draft, has a $3.7MM guaranteed salary for next season with a $5.3MM team option for the 2021/22 campaign.

Lance Stephenson Hoping To Make NBA Return

NBA veteran Lance Stephenson is hoping to make a comeback to the league after a strong showing in China, tweets Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes.

Stephenson, 29, signed a one-year deal with the Chinese Basketball Association’s Liaoning Flying Leopards in August. The Brooklyn native was Liaoning’s leading scorer with 26.7 PPG to go with 7.4 RPG and 3.8 APG in nearly 35 minutes per contest. It was the first time since he was selected 40th overall by the Pacers in 2010 that Stephenson did not open the year on an NBA roster.

“He’s willing to work out to prove his value,” Haynes noted.

The nine-year veteran spent four seasons in Indiana and then had stints with the Hornets, Clippers, Grizzlies and Pelicans before returning for a second stint with the Pacers in 2016/17. Last season, Stephenson suited up for the Lakers. He averaged 7.2 PPG, 3.2 RPG and 2.1 APG in 68 games for Los Angeles.

The mercurial Stephenson could provide some scoring punch and pesky defense off the bench for a team in the postseason hunt.

Lance Stephenson To Play In China

AUGUST 8: Stephenson’s deal with Liaoning is now official, tweets Carchia.

AUGUST 1: Lance Stephenson is taking his talents abroad. Liaoning of the Chinese Basketball Association will add the veteran shooting guard, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. It will be a one-year, $4MM deal, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link).

Stephenson played for the Lakers last year on a one-year, $4.45MM deal, in what many considered a surprising development. During his lone season in Los Angeles, he scored 7.2 points per game and made 37.1% of his shots behind the arc on nearly three attempts per game.

The nine-year veteran was drafted No. 40 overall by the Pacers in the 2010 draft. He spent his first four seasons in the league in Indiana and returned for a second stint during the 2016-17 campaign. He also made stops in Charlotte, Los Angeles (playing for both the Clippers and Lakers at points in his career), Memphis, and New Orleans.

Stephenson is the latest in a string of veteran players who are headed to the Chinese Basketball Assocation after spending part or all of the 2018/19 season in the NBA. Ekpe Udoh, James Nunnally, and Ian Clark are also reportedly joining Chinese teams.

Free Agency Notes: Celtics, Carter, Hawks, Lakers

With Guerschon Yabusele set to hit waivers, the Celtics don’t have a set plan in place for their 15th roster spot, per Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link).

As Himmelsbach explains, Boston could simply fill that spot in the coming weeks with a player, but there’s still a good chance that there will be more change coming to the roster before opening night. It’s even possible that the Celtics will add multiple players and enter training with more than 15 players on guaranteed contracts, Himmelsbach notes (via Twitter).

While Tacko Fall has been a standout for the Celtics during Summer League play, there are currently no plans for him to slide into that 15th roster spot, according to Himmelsbach, who says the plan is still for Fall to enter training camp on an Exhibit 10 contract and proceed from there (Twitter link). The Celtics are currently back to exploring the free agent market for minimum-salary targets, tweets Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald.

As Boston considers its options, here’s more on free agency:

  • The idea of the Hawks bringing back Vince Carter for another season remains a long shot, tweets Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. According to Vivlamore, Atlanta still may add a veteran to its roster, but doesn’t want to take minutes away from its young players, and Carter may be seeking a larger role.
  • Lakers head coach Frank Vogel was among those in attendance at workouts for NBA veterans Marreese Speights and Lance Stephenson in Las Vegas today, according to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype (Twitter links).
  • An ESPN panel, including Dave McMenamin, Tim Bontemps, Malika Andrews, and others – weighs in on the most underrated and most questionable moves of the NBA offseason so far.
  • After commissioner Adam Silver suggested that the NBA has some “work to do” on its free agency system, David Aldridge of The Athletic argues that the league should do away with its unenforceable tampering rules.

Free Agency Notes: Raptors, Stephenson, Kyrie, Sefolosha

The defending-champion Raptors will be a different team in 2019/20, with Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and starting shooting guard Danny Green off to Los Angeles. In the wake of Leonard agreeing to join the Clippers and Green committing to the Lakers, Toronto president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri issued a statement thanking the two former Spurs for their contributions to this year’s title team.

“We are very thankful for the year that Kawhi and Danny played with us here in Toronto, and I know the city and the entire country of Canada are grateful for everything they did to help us to win our first NBA Championship,” Ujiri said. “On behalf of the Raptors, I say a very heartfelt thank you to Kawhi and to Danny, and we send them and their families nothing but good wishes. As an organization, the Raptors will focus on the future and continue our pursuit of a second championship.”

After losing two All-NBA caliber defenders in Leonard and Green, the Raptors seem to be seeking out a certain archetype as they peruse the free agent market, writes Blake Murphy of The Athletic. As Murphy points out, new additions Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson are both versatile forwards with size who should help Toronto maintain its identity as a strong defensive club.

Here’s more on free agency:

  • It doesn’t appear there’s anything brewing at the moment for free agent guard Lance Stephenson, tweets Scott Agness of The Athletic. According to Agness, Stephenson continues to seek a new contract and may have to settle for a minimum-salary deal.
  • While we already know that Kawhi Leonard reached out to Kevin Durant and Paul George before making his free agency decision, ESPN’s Zach Lowe adds Kyrie Irving to the list of players Leonard explored recruiting. Durant and Irving were set on heading to Brooklyn, so those discussions likely didn’t go far.
  • The Jazz haven’t completed closed the door on the idea of a reunion with free agent wing Thabo Sefolosha, tweets Tony Jones of The Athletic.
  • Speaking to Mark Medina of The Mercury News about his decision to join the Timberwolves, Jordan Bell said he was looking for a team that would give him playing time, rather than seeking out the most lucrative offer available. “An opportunity just to play,” Bell said when asked what he prioritized. “Money wasn’t really the issue.” The former second-round pick is getting a one-year, minimum-salary deal from Minnesota.

Lakers Make New Offer For Anthony Davis

2:42pm: The Lakers are willing to surrender Ball, Kuzma, Ingram, Rondo, Beasley, Lance Stephenson, and two first-round picks for Davis and Hill, reports Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link).

That reported offer fits the description Wojnarowski provided, as it includes three promising young players, multiple draft picks, and cap relief in the form of Hill’s contract. Of course, New Orleans doesn’t have any open roster spots, so a 6-for-2 deal might be a little problematic, but if the Pelicans like the offer, that obstacle could probably be overcome.

The Lakers are waiting on the Pelicans to respond, Turner tweets.

2:04pm: The Lakers have offered up a new package for Anthony Davis, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports (via Twitter) that Los Angeles put an offer on the table that includes multiple young players, multiple draft picks, and cap relief for the Pelicans.

Wojnarowski suggests (via Twitter) that there’s no sense of how much progress the two sides have made, but the Lakers have “absolutely gotten more serious” in negotiations, and their latest offer moves closer to what the Pelicans want to get out of a Davis trade. Pelicans GM Dell Demps and Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson have had multiple conversations today, per Wojnarowski.

There were conflicting reports last week on what exactly the Lakers’ offer(s) to the Pelicans looked like. A Los Angeles Times report indicated that L.A. had put five different scenarios on the table for New Orleans, with one of those packages featuring Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Ivica Zubac and a first-round pick. However, the offer reported by Woj was less impressive, with Rajon Rondo and Michael Beasley in place of Ingram and Zubac.

Wojnarowski’s latest report suggests that the Lakers’ newest offer probably looks a little different than both of those previously reported packages. If the Lakers are offering “cap relief,” that presumably means they’d be acquiring more than just Davis. Solomon Hill‘s contract ($12.52MM this season and $12.76MM next season) is the one the Pelicans would most like to get rid of, so he could be part of L.A.’s offer.

Earlier today, we learned that Davis’ camp informed the Pelicans he’d be willing to re-sign with the Lakers, Knicks, Clippers, or Bucks if he’s traded. However, the Knicks and Bucks would be hard-pressed to put together a viable package for Davis, and the Clippers have yet to make an offer, sources tell Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Walton, Lakers’ Veterans Clash After Loss

The Lakers are downplaying a “heated” exchange between coach Luke Walton and a pair of veteran players following Saturday’s loss to Golden State, writes ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.

Walton singled out several players in the locker room, accusing them of having a selfish approach and making poor decisions late in games, McMenamin relays. Michael Beasley and JaVale McGee lashed back, expressing their frustration over Walton’s changing rotations.

Beasley, who also clashed with Walton last month, repeatedly referred to his coach as “bro,” which Walton took exception to. The confrontation was described as tense, but it died down quickly.

“It never got close to getting out of control, people are always emotional after a loss,” a source told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.  Another claimed to ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk that it was “way overhyped.”

“Nothing crazy happened,” an unidentified Lakers player explained to The Undefeated’s Marc Spears. “Luke said some things. The players said some things back. No one was disrespected. Nothing crazy was said.”

Another veteran, Lance Stephenson, posted a message on his Instagram account denying any involvement in the dispute.“Media decided to add Lance Stephenson … I’m in a very happy place … Nothing but positive,” he wrote. “If u going to write a story get the real facts please.”

Saturday’s dust-up offers a window into the tension that exists in the Lakers’ locker room, where no one except LeBron James is guaranteed to be part of the team’s future. Beasley, McGee and Stephenson are among several veterans on one-year contracts, while L.A’s young players are believed to be part of a package offered to the Pelicans in an attempt to land Anthony Davis.
Walton has been coaching for his job most of the season after being called out by management in the wake of a 3-5 start. A rumor that James’ representatives would prefer a coaching change was floated again last week.