Brooklyn Nets: Lance Stephenson All About Timing


Despite signing a three-year, $27 million contract with the Charlotte Hornets last summer, Lance Stephenson made his emotions clear when discussing the possibility of one day lacing up for his hometown Brooklyn Nets.

“It would be a blessing [to play in Brooklyn],” the Coney Island native told the New York Daily News over All Star Weekend. “But right now, Charlotte, that’s what I’m doing right now.”

Although he made sure to slightly backtrack and reiterate his current commitment to the Hornets, publicly endorsing the notion of joining another team while under contract isn’t ever the norm.

In fact, you could almost deem it self-tampering. And if anyone could even make such a thing possible, you better believe it would have to be the always-eccentric Stephenson.

So how do the Nets, themselves, fit into this equation?

Do they use these comments as a bargaining chip in an attempt to revisit – the two were linked in rumors recently – talks of taking Stephenson off Charlotte owner Michael Jordan’s hands before Thursday’s trade deadline?

Seeing how Brooklyn might be looking to shake things up before setting out on the unofficial second half of the season, it would make seem to make sense.

Or not.

After seeing the type of sparkplug he could be back in Indiana, the Nets could certainly use a complementary piece like Stephenson, but only when the time is right.

And for Brooklyn, now would not be that time.

There’s no secret that the overall future of the Nets, starting from the very top with ownership, is a mystery. Mikhail Prokhorov has made it clear over the last several months that he’s more than open to the idea of selling the franchise.

If Prokhorov walks, the job security of general manager Billy King and first-year coach Lionel Hollins would almost inevitably be in doubt as a result.

Brooklyn’s core is also a huge question mark moving forward. The organization appears to be leaning toward a rebuilding route, as all three of its main pieces, Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson, have been surrounded by trade talk throughout the season.

Whether or not any of them are moved by Thursday still remains to be seen, but at this point the chances of them remaining on the roster by the start of next season seems as likely as seeing LeBron James actually participate in the Slam Dunk Contest.

This is where the thought of acquiring Stephenson in the immediate future does not appear favorable for the Nets.

There are two things that a young, at times extremely immature player like Stephenson needs out of an organization – stability up top and a strong supporting cast.

These are the factors which allowed him to find so much success with the Pacers. Coach Frank Vogel understood how to get through to him in ways Hornets coach Steve Clifford has appeared to come up short this season.

Vogel had a group of players vastly talented on the offensive end in David West, Paul George and Roy Hibbert, easing Stephenson of a boatload of pressure to produce like he has now in Charlotte.

No shots fired at Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson, who are solid offensive players, but they don’t possess enough combined firepower to allow Stephenson to play the game as freely as he did in Indiana, which has led to his diminished numbers this season.

The Nets starting over – or at least being well prepared to pull the plug and start over – would not be an ideal situation for Stephenson to enter. He can have big scoring outputs on some nights, but his leap to the Hornets and the nine points he’s averaged in 2014-2015 have proven he’s not a true star.

He’s simply a role player that will only flourish consistently when put into the right situation – a quality that prospective free agents also would not find attractive to play with if he’s the focal point of the team.

There may come a day when Brooklyn will become Stephenson’s basketball home, but it would have to be after his contract with Charlotte expires so long as the Nets have finally reestablished stability by then.