After playing for five different NBA teams over the last three seasons, Brooklyn’s Lance “Born Ready” Stephenson is reportedly returning to Indiana.
Indiana Pacers, Lance Stephenson agree to 3-year, $12 million deal, league sources tell ESPN. First two guaranteed. Team option on third.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) March 29, 2017
The last thing of note this former child prodigy has done on the court is slap box on the sidelines during a stint with the Clippers in January. Needless to say he didn't last long in LA.
The 26-year-old, 6-foot-5 combo guard hasn’t had the prolific NBA career that was predicted when he was a superstar guard with flair, flash and funkdafied fever coming out of legendary Lincoln H.S., the Brooklyn basketball factory that also produced Stephon Marbury.
Some highlights, but no consistency.
Stephenson played the best basketball of his career in Indiana under the special tutelage of Larry Bird, who seemed to get the most out of the kid with a world of potential but limited mental fortitude and basketball maturity. Lance averaged 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists during the 2013-14 season and prior to that he was getting busy in the playoffs each season for Indiana.
They had some classic battles with the Heat and Lance had the New York balls to taunt LBJ at every opportunity. The Pacers went deep into the playoffs, but Lance will be better remembered for taunting King James with the choke sign or blowing in LeBron’s ear and waking a sleeping giant, rather than anything of substance he’s done on the court.
Since that time, he has struggled to find his niche in the NBA after signing a large contract with the Charlotte Hornets during the summer of 2014. He's actually better at freaking rap videos than hooping now.
City Streets To Southern Comfort
The Hornets had high hopes for a backcourt that featured the two best guards out of NYC in the past decade in rising star Kemba Walker and Stephenson. The Shadow League covered Lance’s arrival in Charlotte.
As a NYC born and bred sports journalist, I admit I was overhyped about the union in October of 2014 when I wrote this about Charlotte's new backcourt.
"As far as the most intriguing backcourt is concerned, Charlotte’s freshly-dipped NYC tandem of former first-round pick Kemba Walker and newly acquired free agent Lance Stephenson probably holds down that title.
Stephenson reportedly shunned other offers for more money to hitch his swag wagon to MJ’s rising Hornets, who were swept out of the playoffs in the first round last season by Miami. Charlotte signed Lance to a 3-year $27 million deal in July and hours ago they reached terms on a contract extension with Walker. According to league sources, Walker receives a four-year, $48 million extension that will commence with the 2015-16 season. As the centerpieces of such lucrative investments, it's clear that these guys are the cornerstones of the Hornets future."
In reality they were two ballers moving in opposite directions.
While Kemba has risen to All-Star status, Stephenson is no longer considered a future superstar and his main goal is just staying in the league at this point.
If the Pacers make the playoffs, Stephenson would be playoff eligible as guard Rodney Stuckey was waived to make room for the young Don who was once considered New York’s last great point guard and the future face of a franchise, but now is on his grind, trying to survive the NBA shuffle as just another face in the crowd.