Topic: As one of the best unrestricted free agents available, but also a bit of a hot head, should the Lakers pursue Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson this off-season?
Context: The Lakers are in the midst of a re-build with only three players under contract right now. The team has only one draft pick and very little to offer in a trade, meaning the team is most likely to do most of its work in free agency.
There are many options available, both restricted and unrestricted, but one of the most intriguing is Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson — an unrestricted free agent.
Stephenson has made a lot of headlines for his antics during the Eastern Conference Finals. Trying to get inside the head of LeBron James, Stephenson was seen blowing into James’ ear, tapping James on the chin, and smacking Norris Cole in the face.
Not to mention, with the Pacers going into a complete tailspin over the second half of the season, Stephenson was believed to have played a role in the Pacers’ struggles. Even star player Paul George couldn’t give a straight answer when asked if he wanted Stephenson back on the Pacers next year.
The talent of Stephenson is impossible to deny, however. He averaged 14 points, seven rebounds, and nearly five assists while leading the NBA with five triple-doubles. Additionally, his length and strength allows him to guard three positions effectively.
Stephenson is the ultimate risk-reward case for NBA teams. If a team can channel his intensity and limit his antics, he offers a lot on the court, but does that mean he is a fit in purple and gold?
Verdict: We went to Twitter and asked our Lakers Nation faithful, should the Lakers pursue Lance Stephenson in free agency? And if so, how much is he worth? These are some of the responses:
— Michael Milanov (@Karadrasss) June 1, 2014
— Paulo Cabral (@PauloC21) June 1, 2014
— joelflores (@joeflo90) May 31, 2014
— Bilal (@hazeleyes_NYC) May 31, 2014
— Uncle Drew (@drew_mish) May 31, 2014
@TheeCoreyH absolutely, he's a young smaller version of Artest with more upside in the offensive end… 6M per / 3 year contract.
— Carlos Sotomayor (@cascongas) June 1, 2014
The Lakers Nation faithful is relatively split, but leaning towards the stay away from Stephenson camp. His antics over the last season clearly did not endear him to most fans. I, however, am in the minority on this subject.
Metta World Peace became one of the most beloved Lakers in recent memory. He took ill-advised shots, did some un-intelligent things both on and off the court, and constantly had to work to control his emotions.
But at the end of the day, you could rely on him to play his heart out every night, and I believe the same holds for Stephenson. The Lakers need toughness, someone who won’t be pushed around. Since World Peace and Fisher left, the Lakers have lacked that edge.
Not to mention, Stephenson is extremely talented and has shown that he can guard players bigger than him because of his length and strength. If a player can not be overpowered by LeBron James, then he can guard pretty much anyone.
The key to bringing Stephenson in, however, will be having a strong head coach. Someone who commands respect, like a Byron Scott, would be able to rein in Stephenson’s negatives and show off the positives. With the right coach, Stephenson is worth the risk for around $6-9 million per year in my opinion.
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