Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer is reporting that the Charlotte Hornets have signed free agent shooting guard Lance Stephenson to a three year deal worth around $ 9 million a year, with the final year being a team option.
If you have been following Old North Banter, you know that we have been pushing for the Stephenson move for quite a while now for reasons Dan Dobson best summarized here.
The Art of the Deal
The Hornets played their hand beautifully here. They let Indiana set the bargaining floor, knowing that Indiana was cap strapped and could not offer Stephenson the money that he felt he was suddenly worth. Then Stephenson’s other suitors went in other directions. The Lakers acquired Jeremy Lin’s contract, hurting their flexibility. The Mavericks got Chandler Parsons, eliminating their need. In the end, the Hornets were bidding only against the Pacers, and everyone knew the number the Pacers could not match.
Lance Stephenson is instant upgrade over Gerald Henderson at the two. He can provide the shooting that Henderson never really could. He also is a tremendous wing defender, making him and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist a potential terror in the Steve Clifford system.
The only issue is his self-importance. When the Pacers needed a big shot, Stephenson would often call his own number to provide although someone else (ie Paul George) might have been more qualified. Kemba Walker will likely make those end of game decisions, though, and that will prevent Stephenson from stepping up unnecessarily.
Stephenson has effects on more than just his own game. PJ Hairston can now develop at a more relaxed pace, enabling him to get used to the League more slowly. Henderson now becomes an energy guy off the bench, which should suit his game. The last bit has to do with the cap. Stephenson did not exhaust the Hornets cap, which will help next off-season as we try to resign Kemba Walker.
There is more to say, but we’ll stop here for now.