Lance Stephenson was one of the biggest free-agent signings in the summer, but he might not even make it through a whole season with his new team. According to multiple reports, the Charlotte Hornets are looking to trade the shooting guard.
Stephenson signed a three-year, $27 million contract in the offseason, but his first year with Charlotte has been nothing short of a disaster. After averaging career-highs last year of 13.8 points per game on 49.1 percent field-goal shooting, the 24-year-old is scoring just 10.4 points per game on 38.9 percent from the field. He’s become one of the worst three-point shooters in the NBA, making just 16.7 percent of his shots from behind the arc.
Not being able to gel with Charlotte has contributed to Stephenson and the Hornets becoming one of the worst teams in the league. They’ve won just six of their first 23 games, a year after making the playoffs and posting their best record in four years. While Charlotte is struggling with Stephenson, they are hoping that other teams are willing to take a chance on him.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports that the team has reached out to the Indiana Pacers, whom Stephenson played for during the first four years of his career. The two sides did not come to an agreement in the summer, after the swingman helped lead Indiana to two straight Eastern Conference Finals.
While it's possible a deal could get done between Charlotte and Indiana, Wojnarowski reports that a trade isn’t likely, unless the Pacers also get a first-round pick in return. The Pacers’ brass might not want to bring Stephenson back because of how he might affect the team's chemistry. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst has reported that Stephenson's teammates were “fed up” with him by the end of last season, and Hornets head coach Steve Clifford has clashed with his Stephenson, as well.
If Stephenson does get moved before the trade deadline, the Brooklyn Nets might be the most likely destination. The Hornets are reportedly interested in acquiring Brook Lopez, whom they considered signing a few years ago. Charlotte is reportedly open to the idea of acquiring Joe Johnson, who is owed nearly $25 million next season. The Nets are two games under .500 and hold the eighth seed in the East.
Windhorst called the Los Angeles Clippers a “dark-horse” candidate to acquire Stephenson, and Wojnarowski reports that the two sides have been in contact. L.A. is in need of a player that can defend the perimeter, and Stephenson would fit the bill. However, they might not have the assets to make a deal.
Stephenson isn’t the only swingman that could be on the move soon. According to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated, the Denver Nuggets have been in trade discussions about Wilson Chandler. The Oklahoma City Thunder reportedly have interest in the forward, as they look to climb out of their early season hole.
After playing without both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook for 14 games, Oklahoma City finds themselves two games under .500 and out of the playoffs. They trail the No.8-seed Phoenix Suns by just a half-game.
The amount of trade rumors are likely to increase in the coming weeks, as teams are finally allowed to deal free agents that they signed in the offseason.