Lance Stephenson

Lakers Notes: Ball, Walton, Johnson, James

The Lakers’ brass is encouraged by Lonzo Ball‘s revamped shooting stroke, Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register reports. Ball still holds the ball further left than most right-handed shooters but it’s closer to the center than last season, Goon notes. Ball shot 36% from the field and 30.5% from long range during his rookie season. “The way he’s shooting the ball looks a lot more fluid now,“ GM Rob Pelinka said. Ball, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery this summer, has been medically cleared for camp but won’t initially participate in five-on-five scrimmages, Joey Ramirez of the team’s website reports. “He’s been 100 percent cleared by our medical staff to return to full basketball activity,” Pelinka said.

We have more on the Lakers:

  • Luke Walton‘s job status won’t be in jeopardy if the team gets off to a slow start, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. LeBron James needs time to settle in with his new teammates, president of basketball operations Magic Johnson says, and Walton won’t be penalized during that process. “As I was talking to Luke, we said don’t worry about if we get out to a bad start,” Johnson said. “We have seen that with LeBron going to Miami, and we have seen that when he came back to Cleveland. He is going to struggle because there are so many new moving parts.”
  • Johnson shrugs off criticism of controversial free agent signings following James’ commitment, including Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, Michael Beasley and JaVale McGee, Matt Eppers of USA Today writes. “We love that they all are different individuals and they bring something different to the table,” Johnson said. “We needed some grittiness, we needed some toughness. We needed somebody to come in and be upset that somebody had a defensive lapse.”
  • Johnson can’t hide his enthusiasm over James’ impact, even before training camp officially opens. “LeBron comes in, and he’s already in midseason form and shooting fadeaways and 3-pointers from almost half-court,” Johnson said in an Associated Press report. “And you’re sitting there saying, ‘Man, thank God we signed him.’”
  • Brandon Ingram and Stephenson are the team’s top small forwards and Ramirez takes a closer look at all the options at the position.

Lakers Notes: Ball, Stephenson, Bosh, Thompson

Lakers guard Lonzo Ball wasn’t concerned with his name being in trade rumors this past summer, relays Christian Rivas of USA TODAY’s Lonzo Wire. Ball was rumored as potential trade candidate in a deal involving Kawhi Leonard before the Spurs moved him to Toronto.

“There’s trade rumors every year,” Ball said. “Athletes in general, you’re never really 100 percent safe. Wherever you’re at. Anything can happen, especially in the offseason, so all I can do is just make sure I’m ready to play at the best of my abilities.”

The Lakers ultimately opted to keep Ball on their roster, and it’s unclear if the team ever seriously pursued a trade involving him. Los Angeles reached a buyout agreement with Luol Deng this past week, which gives the team the cap flexibility to pursue Leonard again once he becomes a free agent in July.

Ball, 20, is set to enter his second season with the Lakers. He’ll compete with veteran guard Rajon Rondo for the team’s starting point guard position when camp opens in three weeks.

There’s more from the Lakers:

  • Lance Stephenson is focused on helping the Lakers earn a winning season, studying game film of LeBron James and other teammates throughout the summer, Scott Agness of The Athletic notes. “He worked harder than most guys that I’ve ever seen over a summer period,” NBA trainer Rob Blackwell said.
  • Free agent Chris Bosh continues to eye an NBA comeback, but a number of hurdles would stand between him and the Lakers on a potential deal, writes Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus. Bosh must show a significant improvement in his condition or any potential treatment options in order to be cleared by the league.
  • While he may be a long shot to leave the Warriors in 2019, Klay Thompson shouldn’t be overlooked as a potential free agent target for the Lakers, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. As Anthony Irwin of Silver Screen & Roll details, Shelburne observed during an appearance on ESPN Radio that Thompson’s skill set would be an ideal fit for the Lakers, but acknowledged that the All-Star guard “feels like a Warrior for life.”

Pacific Notes: Stephenson, Teodosic, Boban, Booker

When LeBron James joined the Lakers, several other seasoned veterans followed suit. While Los Angeles was not able to lure another high-priced free agent alongside James, the team did sign experienced players who all fill specific roles.

Longtime Indiana Pacer Lance Stephenson, a noted on-court nemesis of James, was one of the first players to sign. Speaking a party to say farewell to Indianapolis, Stephenson told The Indianapolis Star that he did not personally hear from James but was aware of his interest.

Magic (Johnson) called me and he told me LeBron was interested, very interested in me,” Stephenson said.

Stephenson, 27, is coming off a year in which he played all 82 games for the first time in his career. He averaged 9.2 PPG and 5.2 RPG for Indiana off the bench while providing his usual hard-nosed yet quirky style of play.

“Give me a few hours to make this decision,” Stephenson said he told Johnson. “I decided to go there and, hopefully, we will win a lot of games and have fun.”

Check out more Pacific Division notes below:

  • Clippers players Milos Teodosic and Boban Marjanovic have decided not to join the Serbian national team for September’s FIBA World Cup qualifiers, head coach Sasha Djordjevic confirmed to Novosti.rs (via Sportando).
  • The Clippers‘ quest for a new arena took a positive step forward on Friday, as lawmakers approved a bill that would streamline the process, Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register writes.
  • Suns guard Devin Booker is off to a strong start in his career and he only sees better things ahead. Speaking to a group of 300 kids at a youth camp, Booker said that he feels the playoffs are within reach, given the team’s acquisitions and young talent, Greg Moore of the AZCentral.com writes. “I want to build my own legacy here in Phoenix,” Booker said. “I feel like I’m off to a pretty good start. Just gotta keep going. Turn these losses into wins and make the playoffs and go from there.”

Central Notes: Stephenson, Parker, Stefanski, Griffin

Lance Stephenson has left the Pacers again, but just like last time it may not be forever, writes Dana Benbow for The Indianapolis Star. Stephenson, who signed a one-year deal with the Lakers this summer, was asked about a possible return during a party he threw Wednesday to say goodbye to Indianapolis.

“Oh, of course. This is home. Of course,” he responded. “I would always want to come back here.”

Stephenson was among Indiana’s most productive reserves last season, appearing in all 82 games and posting a 9.2/5.2/2.9 line. His previous stints with other teams — the Hornets, Clippers, Grizzlies, Pelicans and Timberwolves — produced mostly disappointing results.

“We stayed in constant communication with him,” team president Kevin Pritchard said. “At the end of the day, Lance gave us some great years. We love Lance. We love Lance on the court, we love Lance off the court.” 

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Mike Budenholzer may be having “buyer’s remorse” over taking the Bucks‘ head coaching job after the loss of free agent Jabari Parker, suggests Gery Woelfel of WoelfelsPressBox in his latest podcast. He adds that the entire organization was counting on Parker to stay and never expected him to get an offer in the $20MM range like the Bulls gave him.
  • The Bucks are still hoping to make a deal before the season starts, Woelfel adds in the same discussion. He names John Henson, Malcolm Brogdon and Tony Snell as the players most likely to go, but says Eric Bledsoe has also been mentioned as a trade candidate.
  • Ed Stefanski has made a lot of progress in his first 100 days as a senior advisor to the Pistons, notes Chris Schwegler of NBA.com. The most significant moves were the hiring of reigning Coach of the Year Dwane Casey, adding Khyri Thomas and Bruce Brown through the draft and signing free agents Glenn Robinson III, Jose Calderon and Zaza Pachulia.
  • Blake Griffin is looking healthy during his summer workouts at UCLA, relays Kurt Helin of NBC Sports. A knee injury limited Griffin to 58 games last year between the Clippers and Pistons, and he hasn’t played more than 67 in a season since 2013/14.

Western Notes: Lakers, Beyer, Grant, Morey

The Lakers front office felt they couldn’t fight fire with fire to overtake the Warriors, so their offseason acquisitions beyond LeBron James were aimed toward another approach, as Kevin Ding explains in an extensive piece posted on the team’s website. By signing Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo and Michael Beasley, the Lakers signaled that they want to rise to the top in a different way. “To try to play the Warriors in their own game is a trap,” GM Rob Pelinka told Ding. “No one is going to beat them at their own game. That’s why we wanted to add these elements: defense, toughness and depth—and try to look at areas where we’ll have an advantage.”

We have more from around the Western Conference:

  • The Thunder have added Bob Beyer to Billy Donovan‘s coaching staff, according to a team press release. Beyer spent the last four seasons on Stan Van Gundy’s Pistons staff, serving as the associate head coach the past two seasons. His NBA coaching experience dates back to the 2003/04 season as an assistant with the Raptors.
  • Thunder forward Jerami Grant anticipates a bigger role during the upcoming season after signing a multi-year contract, as he told Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype in a Q&A session. Grant appeared in 81 games last season, averaging 8.4 PPG and 3.9 RPG in 20.3 MPG. He anticipates even more playing time with the departure of Carmelo Anthony. “I’m definitely excited to be able to play extensive minutes and play important minutes on a contender. Getting a chance to show what you can do while being part of an organization like this, being part of a team like this, it means a lot. They’ve shown a lot of trust in me by giving me this new contract and [and a bigger role].” Grant signed a three-year, $27MM contract to remain with OKC.
  • Rockets GM Daryl Morey is just as curious as anyone how DeMarcus Cousins will fit in with the Warriors, as he told radio host Dan Patrick in comments relayed by NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman. “They’ll probably figure out how to make it work, but it’s a little bit hard on paper to figure out how to make it work. But we do that well and so do they, obviously. They’re gonna be a tough out again, obviously. They’re arguably the best team in NBA history,” Morey said.

Pacific Notes: Stephenson, Ariza, Harrell, Ferrell

Headed to his seventh team in five years, new Laker Lance Stephenson is hoping he can land a long-term contract next summer, relays Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports. Stephenson expected a longer stay in Indiana after appearing in all 82 games last season. However, after teammate Thaddeus Young opted in to a $13.7MM deal and Doug McDermott was added in free agency, the Pacers elected to decline their $4.3MM option on Stephenson. He wound up signing a one-year, $4.5MM deal with L.A.

“I’m definitely looking for a long-term contract after this,” Stephenson said. “I’m trying to find a home. I’ve been moving a lot and to different teams. I’m trying to find a place where I can actually call home and feel comfortable, and actually get a nice place and stay there for a while.”

There’s more this morning from the Pacific Division:

  • The Suns contacted free agent forward Trevor Ariza in the first minute of free agency, he says in a video interview tweeted by the team. The former Rocket agreed to change teams after receiving a one-year, $15MM offer from Phoenix. “Sometimes things run their course and it’s time for a new start and new beginning,” Ariza explained. “There were a lot of options for me, but the one that … showed the most promise was this one. I’m excited to be here. I’m happy to be here. It’s closer to home [in Los Angeles] for me.”
  • The new two-year, $12MM contract for Montrezl Harrell leaves the Clippers about $500K below the tax line, but sets up a difficult roster decision, Bobby Marks posts on ESPN Now. Re-signing Harrell gives L.A. 16 guaranteed contracts, along with non-guaranteed deals for Patrick Beverley ($5,027,028) and C.J. Williams ($1,378,242). Neither becomes fully guaranteed until January 10.
  • The Kings finalized a three-year, $20.5MM contract with Nemanja Bjelica on Saturday, but not an expected deal with Yogi Ferrell, notes salary cap expert Albert Nahmad (Twitter link). He speculates that Sacramento could be examining its options with $14MM in remaining cap space and may use the room mid-level exception to sign Ferrell to a two-year, $6.2MM deal at a later date.

Pacific Notes: Beasley, James, Livingston, Temple

In a somewhat surprising move, the Lakers plan to sign veteran forward Michael Beasley to a one-year, $3.5MM deal, using a significant portion of their room exception. Beasley enjoyed a rejuvenated season with the Knicks in 2017/18, averaging 13.2 PPG and 5.6 RPG in 74 games (30 starts).

Beasley reportedly had opportunities to sign with teams that offered more playing time, but a tough free agent market made the $3.5MM salary hard to pass up, tweets David Aldridge of NBA.com. Also, Beasley has familiarity with LeBron James, as he played alongside the four-time NBA MVP with the Heat.

Since the Lakers signed James away from the Cavaliers, the team has further added Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee and now Beasley. While it may not be the super team fans had hoped for, it’s an interesting conglomerate of talent.

Check out more Pacific Division notes:

  • Speaking of James, he made his first public appearance last Sunday to watch his new team in action at NBA Summer League. Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report spoke to several Lakers’ executives who were on hand and discussed the prospect of James in Los Angeles and his role on the team. One executive actually believes the Lakers’ best lineup would be with James at center.
  • Shaun Livingston has been a valuable reserve for the Warriors as the team has dominated the NBA the past half-decade, winning three championships in the past four years. Michael Scotto of The Athletic (subscription required) spoke to Livingston during his basketball camp in New York City, where Livingston addressed the Warriors’ success and the perception that Golden State has “ruined” the league with their super team.
  • Ever since Zach LaVine‘s offer sheet was matched by the Bulls, the Kings have not made any major additions to the team this offseason. Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes that the Kings’ low-key approach thus far is okay and helps the team in the future.
  • The Grizzlies sent $1.5MM to the Kings as part of the trade for Garrett Temple , tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. That figure is the equivalent of Deyonta Davis‘ salary, which would therefore be covered by Memphis if the Kings choose to waive him.

Clark Crum contributed to this post.

Western Notes: Capela, Stephenson, Jazz

The Rockets and Clint Capela may not be that far apart in negotiations toward a new deal, as Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link) is hearing that the team’s initial offer was not as low as previously reported. Sources tell Feigen that the July 1 offer was for $85MM over five years with Capela having the ability to earn up to $90MM based on incentives.

Rumors claiming the center wanted an offer in the neighborhood of $100MM over four years, similar to Steven Adams‘ pact, surfaced recently. Previous reports had Houston offering approximately $60MM over four years.

One source tells Feigen that the Rockets are optimistic about reaching a deal. Houston has the ability to match any offer, as Capela is a restricted free agent.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Magic Johnson said he consulted LeBron James before bringing Lance Stephenson, Rajon Rondo, and JaVale McGee to the Lakers, as Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum SportsNet relays (Twitter link). “LeBron’s won championships, been to eight straight Finals. You think Rob [Pelinka] and I are not going to ask him? No, we’re going to definitely ask him his opinion because he knows those players better than us,” Johnson said.
  • Stephenson said the Lakers want him to “bring intensity” every night, as Spectrum SportsNet’s Mike Trudell passes along (Twitter link). The 27-year-old wing officially signed his one-year deal today.
  • Chemistry was a major reason why the Jazz decided to keep their core intact. “Chemistry is a hard thing,” GM Dennis Lindsey said (via the Associated Press). “It’s a hard thing to predict. You can get five great people in the room and have it just not click for whatever reason, so we didn’t want to overthink that.”

Lakers Sign Lance Stephenson

JULY 10: The Lakers have officially signed Stephenson, according to a press release from the team.

“It’s incredibly exciting to have Lance join our team,” GM Rob Pelinka said in a statement. “Lance is playoff-tested and will bring a certain edge, confidence and toughness to our roster. His multi-positional versatility and open-court playmaking abilities are key ingredients for the basketball style we designed for next season.”

By signing Stephenson now, the Lakers have elected to use most or all of their remaining cap room to complete his deal, leaving the $4.449MM room exception available for another move.

JULY 1: The Lakers have agreed to a deal with Lance Stephenson, Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports tweets. The 27-year-old swingman and notorious rival of LeBron James will head to Los Angeles after a career-reviving 14-month stint with the Pacers.

The pact, which ESPN’s Chris Haynes reports is worth $4.5MM over one season, will give the Lakers an additional veteran as they gear up to transition from a rebuilding young squad to a genuine Western Conference contender.

[RELATED: LeBron James to sign four-year deal with Lakers]

Stephenson, 27, had his 2018/19 team option turned down by the Pacers after he averaged 9.2 PPG, 5.2 RPG, and 2.9 APG last season, appearing in all 82 games. While his shooting numbers (.427/.289/.661) were all below his career marks, it was still somewhat surprising to see the Pacers let Stephenson go. His option salary would have been $4.36MM, so he’ll get a slight raise on his new deal.

Based on the terms reported by Haynes, it appears the Lakers will use their room exception to sign Stephenson once they’ve used up all their cap room. The room exception is worth $4.449MM for 2018/19.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Central Notes: Stephenson, Love, Polinsky, Evans

The Pacers offered a better contract to swingman Lance Stephenson than he received from the Lakers, Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard said on Friday (Twitter link via Mark Monteith). Stephenson agreed to a one-year, $4.5MM deal from the Lakers. A phone call from LeBron James influenced Stephenson’s decision to choose L.A., Monteith adds. However, the Pacers declined Stephenson’s team option of $4.36MM prior to free agency, so it seems odd Pritchard then turned around and offered more in the open market.

In other news around the Central Division:

  • The Cavs don’t plan on tanking or trading their top remaining player Kevin Love, Joe Vardon of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. GM Koby Altman said he’s intent on keeping the team competitive despite the loss of LeBron James“Kevin is an All-Star and you don’t get better by moving Kevin,” Altman said. “Kevin’s been incredible for us for four years and he wants to be here, and to me that’s a big part for guys that are here and the guys that we’re gonna acquire, is that they want to be here and be a part of this new chapter and culture that we’re creating.”
  • The Pistons have hired Nets executive Gregg Polinsky as their director of player personnel, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets. Pistons senior advisor Ed Stefanski and Polinsky worked together in Brooklyn, Wojnarowski adds. Polinsky had the same title with the Nets but his role will expand in Detroit. Pat Garrity and Andrew Loomis, who were assistant GMs under former team president Stan Van Gundy, will continue in their roles, according to Rod Beard of the Detroit News. The Pistons could bring in another assistant GM to focus on analytics, Beard adds.
  • Tyreke Evans is content with coming off the bench for the Pacers, Monteith writes for the team’s website. Evans joined the Pacers on a one-year, $12MM deal. Pritchard didn’t have to coax Evans into being a sixth man. “Not one bit,” he said. “We told him, ‘Here’s your role, does that interest you?’ He said, ‘Yes, I’m in.’ I think in his mind he’s going, ‘Boy, I’ve been scoring a lot of points and doing a lot of good stuff against starters, this is going to be fun.'”
  • Tim Grgurich is likely to join Dwane Casey’s coaching staff with the Pistons, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press tweets. Grgurich, 76, has a long career as an NBA assistant and most recently was a consultant with the Bucks.