One of the more notable remaining free agents, Lance Stephenson has a shot to find himself an NBA team for next season, getting an invite to workout for the New Orleans Pelicans.
Stephenson hasn’t been courted this offseason despite a strong finish with the Memphis Grizzlies last year, averaging 14.2 points per game while the Grizzlies were dealing with injuries, trying to erase the impression he left with his time playing for the Charlotte Hornets and Los Angeles Clippers. The Pelicans do have 15 players with guaranteed contracts on their roster, but they would like to add quality to the wing, with Stephenson capable of playing both shooting guard and small forward.
If Stephenson does indeed get the workout and impress, the Pelicans will have to find room for him among Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway and E’Twaun Moore at shooting guard, or Solomon Hill, Quincy Pondexter and Alonzo Gee at small forward. Stephenson can handle the ball and is a pretty good outside shooter (38.5% last season from three), while his defense comes and goes with motivation. On paper, the 26 year is probably better than most players the Pelicans have at the SG-SF positions, but Stephenson’s perceived personality seems to be standing in the way of securing an NBA contract.
Stephenson is four days away from his 26th birthday, but already might be washed up in the NBA, or in need of a year away from the league. After averaging 13.8 points in the 2013-2014 season for the Indiana Pacers, helping them make the conference finals and finish with the best record in the East, his behavior in the playoffs raised suspicions about his fit with the team. He declined a five-year, $44 million offer from the Pacers, instead signing a 3-year, $27 million contract with the Hornets, believing he deserves a bigger role, and thinking it places him in a better position to earn big money in the 2016 summer. We know how all that turned out. Now he’s barely getting invited to workouts.