Lance Stephenson Trade Update


Back in the offseason, Lance Stephenson was a constant topic of discussion regarding his next employer. Stephenson turned down a contract offer from Indiana for 5 years and 44 million, ultimately taking a smaller length contract in Charlotte for 3 years, 27 million. An interesting decision but it was clear that the one they call “Born Ready” was positioning himself for a huge payday with the new TV money after 2016.

Personally, I’ve been adamant about the Nets acquiring Stephenson in the offseason but was aware how crippled they were in terms of signing free agents due to their disastrous cap situation. Regardless, myself and a boatload of Nets fans would’ve been more than willing to part ways with Deron Williams in a potential deal that will bring Stephenson back home to Brooklyn. After watching his minimal impact made so far in his tenure in Charlotte, you could tell that he was playing uninspired basketball in addition to a nagging hip injury.

Something tells me that “Born Ready” has thought of this before. Following his Instagram account over the past few months have been an interesting look at his psyche. He’ll subtly post about wanting to return to Brooklyn (a la Andray Blatche) and then immediately follow it with a picture of him in all Hornets gear. It is clear that Stephenson would be willing to switch teams after only 3 months and it appears as though Charlotte is too. Last night, twitter received one of Adrian Wojnarowski dropped one of his famous “Woj Bombs”, alerting his followers that Brook Lopez (Jarrett Jack also) could potentially be dealt to OKC and Charlotte respectively, with Stephen coming to Brooklyn in return.

As of last night, Wojnarowski tweeted that all three teams had heavy talks yesterday afternoon but a deal could not be ironed out last night. Today will prove to be the pivotal day for a potential deal as reports have circulated about hopes of a trade being made by this weekend.

So what does this mean for Brooklyn if they’re able to complete this trade? As you can see from the tweet above, the Nets are shuffling their feet in the deal due to the players involved. Lopez and Stephenson are the cornerstones of the deal which will remain regardless but it could be that the Nets are hesitant about sending Jarrett Jack to Charlotte as well? Jack has done an above average job filling in for the oft-injured Deron Williams and Brooklyn could be extremely thin if Deron is out for an extended of time. He’s already out this weekend, which would prompt Darius Morris to a starting role if the deal happened to be completed today. Stephenson could also run point but has thrived in his opportunities playing off the ball in his young career.

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Regardless, with Stephenson (and a clean bill of health) the Nets are receiving a hard-nosed defender and strong scorer, ball handler that they desperately need. The writing is on the wall for Lopez in Brooklyn already and Williams isn’t far behind if someone can take him off their hands. It appears that Joe Johnson will remain with the Nets and slide into a hybrid SG/SF role anticipating a vacancy at the Nets point guard position due to Deron’s nagging injuries.

This move would be a step in the right direction for the future of the franchise with the ability to shed some serious cap space if Lopez is dealt and change the scenery for a slumping squad in desperation of a spark. Assuming he would accept his player option next season, the Nets would save close to 14 million in cap space according to Tim Bontemps of the New York Post. Billy King dug himself a massive hole to begin with by offering three players max contracts and is slowly chipping away at the luxury tax iceberg and freeing up necessary financial flexibility for the upcoming seasons.

In addition, Stephenson’s contract is ideal for Brooklyn. He’s only guaranteed up until next season at 9 million in 2015 and the final year is slated as a team option. If things go south with Brooklyn and Stephenson (hopefully not) they can either trade him or part ways after 2015-2016 season. His contract value also takes away from what they would have ultimately paid Lopez in addition to shedding Jarrett Jack’s contract in the process. If this can be completed and Billy King could find a suitor for Deron Williams, the cap situation will begin to look far less grim than it has in the past.

The charade can only go on for so long in Brooklyn. The Nets shot for the moon last season with their short-sighted “title hopes” and have struggled ever since. Their cap situation wasn’t desirable before the 2013-14 season yet it got much worse. Now, the Nets have the ability to whittle of another substantial chunk of the hefty payroll by parting ways with Lopez and acquiring Brooklyn’s own Lance Stephenson.

As for Brook Lopez, if the reports hold true, it was a great run in New Jersey and Brooklyn. His contributions since 2008 will be severely missed. Frustrating at times for sure with his constant injuries and his recent inconsistency but Brook always remained a fan favorite throughout and they will certainly miss his presence in the lineup each night. He also represents the last player drafted as a New Jersey Net to remain on the team, officially closing out their era in Jersey. Although, Lopez and Hollins appeared to be on different wavelengths the entire season and maybe a change of scenery will be best for the big man.

Speaking of Hollins, it will be another important task to get Stephenson focused and committed to helping this team succeed immediately. Stephenson has all the talent in the world but a coach must be able to deflect his strong personality in order to keep team chemistry in tact. Just ask Frank Vogel. Once Stephenson was able to gel with his starters on the Pacers, they were a dangerous squad that could go toe-to-toe with any team in the league. Hollins will certainly have his work cut out for him but one can point to Zach Randolph as an example. Randolph was whipped into order with Hollins at the helm in Memphis, becoming one of the most well-rounded forwards in the game.

The Nets may appear to be in a tailspin but maybe a shot of life from a potential Stephenson trade is what the team needs right now. Fans are eager for a turnaround or a potential deal and are hoping Billy King can deliver some positive news in the next few days, hopefully by tonight.

***UPDATE 10:05 AM***

Well then. So much for all of that analysis. It appears as though the Nets are exploring options elsewhere but I don’t necessarily feel that the trade is officially “dead”. The Nets have been receiving interest from multiple teams this past week regarding Lopez and it only fitting that Billy King explore every single avenue before he makes a deal. He might feel Lopez has added value and is making a last ditch effort to sell these teams on the Center. Could they still acquire Stephenson? Certainly, but expect the landscape of the deal to change. If we’re being honest though, I thought it was a great deal for all parties…

Continue checking with From Russia With Dunk for updates and analysis throughout the weekend to see what direction the trade talks have shifted towards.

Go Nets.