The NBA rumors have been everywhere during this buyout season. Lance Stephenson has been out of the league since 2019, but he’s looking to make a comeback. Per The Athletic’s David Aldridge, Stephenson is working out in New York, hoping to join a team. He has reportedly been in New York for the last few weeks. Stephenson’s training has him working on his range as the primary focus. With Stephenson’s potentially improved range and tenacious defense, teams around the league would pick up a veteran wing to come off the bench and provide valuable minutes.
NBA Rumors: Lance Stephenson Looking to Return to NBA
After the 2018-2019 season, Stephenson went to the CBA for one season. In 2019-2020, Stephenson averaged 26.7 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.1 steals in 34.8 minutes per game in 29 games with the Liaoning Flying Leopards. After seeing the Los Angeles Lakers win the 2020 NBA Championship, you can imagine the fire that must have lit under Stephenson to get back in the league. The team that he was on just a year prior, going all the way and winning the championship. Besides all the ear-blowing, teams know that they’re getting a veteran wing player that can defend and make the occasional showstopper play with Stephenson. So, if Stephenson is to return, where should he go?
Los Angeles Lakers
While it might seem odd for the Lakers to sign Stephenson, it wouldn’t be shocking. NBA rumors have Stephenson mainly linked with the Lakers. At this instant, the Lakers are looking for a 3-and-D wing to fill their final roster spot. Stephenson fits that perfectly. Furthermore, he has experience with this roster and this system. While a lot has changed in the Lakers organization since Stephenson was a part of it, many of the familiar pieces are still there. Stephenson already has experience playing alongside LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma, and Alex Caruso to name a few alumni from that 2018-2019 season. In that last NBA season, Stephenson put up 7.2 points, 2.1 assists, and 3.2 rebounds coming off the bench for 16.5 minutes per game. With the Lakers looking for that 3-and-D wing, and options around the league drying up, Stephenson would be the perfect target for them.
New York Knicks
The New York Knicks have struggled recently, dropping crucial games to the Miami Heat and the Minnesota Timberwolves. Furthermore, they are having their share of injury troubles with their wings. RJ Barrett (ankle) and Reggie Bullock (illness) are both listed as Day-to-Day. Stephenson would be a spark off the bench for the Knicks and help bolster their already respectable shooting and great defense. Stephenson would also be able to start for them some nights, potentially getting the nod ahead of Bullock.
The Milwaukee Bucks have been good this season. However, they seem to have taken a step back from last year’s dominant regular season play. One of the main reasons for this has been the lack of depth and then bench play. Milwaukee has already made moves trying to address this issue. Acquiring Jeff Teague and P.J. Tucker were good moves to improve the PG and PF rotation. However, Pat Connaughton as the backup to Khris Middleton is still an issue. Connaughton has not played well this season, having some of the worst basic stats on the team. In terms of his per 36 stats, he ranks 14th in scoring, 11th in assists, and seventh in rebounds. Bringing in Stephenson would repair a hole in the Bucks’ rotation at the SF position.
The Indiana Pacers are stuck in the standings. They are currently hovering just outside the playoff picture. Losing T.J. Warren so early in the season was a blow from which Indiana hasn’t been able to recover. With that being said, they are only 2.5 games back of the fourth-seed Charlotte Hornets. Right now, the Pacers’ top two small forwards in the depth chart are Justin Holiday and Edmond Sumner. These two are both quality NBA players but they should not be your top options at this position. We have already toyed with the idea of Lance having a homecoming with the Lakers, he could have one instead with the Pacers. Spending his formative years with the organization before bouncing around the league, Stephenson was a fan favorite in Indiana and created his share of iconic moments. Lance is the perfect option to both improve the play of the Pacers and inject more energy into a beaten-down roster.
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