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May 30, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson (1) is pressured by Miami Heat guard Ray Allen (34) in game six of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Grading Lance Stephenson to Charlotte Hornets

The Charlotte Hornets finally made the move! The deal is detailed here by our own John Woodcock. I built the case for Stephenson to Charlotte just yesterday here.

But now that it has come true, let’s grade the process for everyone involved.

“Perhaps this level of involvement from MJ will finally destroy the lazy narrative that he is a terrible owner.”

The Front Office: A+++

Whenever a major move is made in free agency, you have to start by grading the front office. The brass pulled out all the stops to make an impression on Lance Stephenson as detailed by the Charlotte Observer here.

Michael Jordan, Rich Cho, Steve Clifford, and Patrick Ewing all personally met with Stephenson to get the deal done. That’s a lot of impressive resumes to make an impact.

Perhaps this level of involvement from MJ will finally destroy the lazy narrative that he is a terrible owner.

This front office has to be commended for the level of progress made even in the midst of difficult change with the departure of Rod Higgins just two weeks before the draft. Remember, this franchise won just seven games only two years ago!

The Bobcats tried to rebuild the right way–through the draft. But they were terribly unlucky.

In 2012, when they had the best odds to get Anthony Davis, they moved back to get the No. 2 pick. Again in 2013, Charlotte had the second best odds in the lottery, but moved back to fourth.

“You cannot understate this point: Hayward would have made approximately $45-48 million over the first three years of his deal and Stephenson is making nearly 45% less than that, at $27 million over the same amount of time.”

I am the first to admit and question some of Cho’s picks. I think he is brilliant with numbers, cap, etc. But I am yet to see the young core of Bismack Biyombo, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Cody Zeller take off.

Kemba Walker, of course, is the exception. I see the flashes of potential and brilliance, especially for MKG if that jump shot comes around, but the jury is still out.

Since the lottery hasn’t been lucky for the Charlotte Hornets, they have acquired talent via free agency.  Franchise center Al Jefferson was signed last year and the move was highly questioned. The signing of Gordon Hayward was deemed a step in the right direction, but was he really worth the price of $63 million? In the end, Utah matched, leaving us to the signing of Lance Stephenson today for three years at $27 million.

You cannot understate this point: Hayward would have made approximately $45-48 million over the first three years of his deal and Stephenson is making nearly 45% less than that, at $27 million over the same amount of time.

This is a tremendous valuable upgrade in talent for the Charlotte Hornets. Cho patiently waited for the market to dry up and even waited so that Indiana couldn’t match. He is a master, I hope I am wrong about some of picks panning out as well. Please Rich show me up.

By saving over $20 million dollars by acquiring Stephenson instead of Hayward, the Charlotte Horents are also in prime position going into next off-season. They will have to resign Kemba Walker. Al Jefferson could also opt out of his deal to become a free agent after this year as well. That $20 million saved will go to securing the future of this franchise.

 Fit On The Court: B+

I admit, Gordon Hayward would have been nice for Charlotte. But aside from three point shooting and size, Stephenson to me is the more talented player in everyway.

Stephenson is better than Hayward defensively, which is Charlotte’s foundation. Stephenson is the better rebounder, ball handler, shot creator, and passer. Hayward is great in these areas, I believe Stephenson is simply better.

The one question mark is intangibles. Yes, Lance can be a knucklehead, but I believe he wants a bigger payday passed this contract. By being a model citizen and showing his talent, I think he could be an All-Star.

Stephenson brings playoff experience from two Eastern Conference Finals against the 2-time champs. Hayward has no playoff experience. Stephenson has an edge to him, Hayward is better suited as a 2nd or 3rd option. I just don’t think Charlotte should pay MAX money to a 3rd option. Lance Stephenson brings value, talent, and fit for a rising threat in the East.

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Tags: Charlotte Hornets Lance Stephenson

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