HoopsHype Lance Stephenson rumors

October 23, 2014 Updates
October 22, 2014 Updates

Before Stephenson had committed to Charlotte, his representatives had recognized his successful growth with the Indiana Pacers and a desire to stay. Move a salary off the books, move a player here or there and keep your homegrown talent, Stephenson’s management team urged the Pacers’ front office. With the ability to shed part or all of Luis Scola’s and Donald Sloan’s contracts, people involved in negotiations brought up scenarios to remove those deals to create an increased Year 1 and Year 2 salary for Stephenson in a deal with Indiana. Suggestions went unanswered, without execution. Under the direction of Larry Bird and Herb Simon, the Pacers remained resistant in their contract offer to Stephenson, and lost him. Bird had called Stephenson’s behaviors “disappointing” late in last season’s playoffs, had failed to convince ownership enough of his former second round pick to spike into a luxury tax area, but Stephenson was his guy. He always shielded Stephenson privately and publicly. Away from this partnership, Stephenson understands there’s no turning back now, no grudge to keep. RealGM

October 20, 2014 Updates

I know you've moved on. But any disappointment about how things ended in Indy? Lance Stephenson: Nah. I'm here. That's the past, and I'm looking forward right now. I'm happy with where I'm at, and I just want to win here. I think we're going to be good. We have a group of guys that want to be together and want to win and play hard. I think we'll be pretty good this year. NBA.com

October 19, 2014 Updates
October 17, 2014 Updates
October 16, 2014 Updates
October 14, 2014 Updates

After Stephenson and his agent, Alberto Ebanks, had failed to reach a deal with the Pacers, they met in Las Vegas with Jordan, Cho, Hornets vice chairman Curtis Polk, Clifford, Ewing and assistant general manager Chad Buchanan. Jordan wasn't the only member of his family at the meeting, either, as his brother and Hornets director of player personnel Larry Jordan was there, as was Hornets executive vice president of operations Ronnie Jordan. As Clifford remembers it, MJ and Ewing — the face of the Knicks during Stephenson's childhood — had everything to do with the three-year, $27million deal getting done a day later. "The biggest part about the meeting was our owner," Clifford says. "He's a fan of Lance. He loves his competitiveness, and he talked to him candidly about why we think he's such a good fit for our franchise and about things ... that (Stephenson) could control to get better. I thought that set the tone for the whole meeting." USA Today Sports

October 10, 2014 Updates

By the weekend of July 11, both sides had verbally committed to a two-year contract worth slightly more than Stephenson's eventual deal with the Hornets, according to Ebanks. But Dallas was in a holding pattern; the Houston Rockets first had to match Chandler Parsons' Mavericks offer, or it wouldn't happen. "It was a domino effect," Ebanks said. "Dallas did not think that Houston was going to let Parsons walk. Lance was very close to being a member of the Mavericks. When you're a little further along into free agency, people are more in the position to pull the trigger when they see what they're looking for." CBSSports.com

Neither Stephenson nor Ebanks had ever met Jordan. Neither were they prepared for what he was about to say to Stephenson: "You can be something special," Ebanks recalled. "When I shook [Jordan's] hand, I was shaking," Stephenson said. "I was very nervous because that's like everybody in the world who played basketball's idol. I thought I would never meet Michael Jordan, but when I finally met him and talked to him and got to know him, that was the best feeling ever." Bleacher Report

"I'm not worried at all about Lance," Walker said. "There's nothing wrong with him. He doesn't say much; he's quiet. He just likes to have fun. When I saw [him blowing into James' ear], I'm like, 'That's nothing new.' Lance has been doing that for years. It's just that he's on a big stage, so everybody is going to always have something to say about it. "Lance just gets excited, and he loves to play the game of basketball. Basically he's trying to do whatever he can do to win a basketball game, and there's nothing wrong with that. I could care less if he blows into somebody's ear. He played very well in the playoffs last season, so he'll be fine, especially with the off-the-court stuff. I don't think he'll get in much trouble at all." Bleacher Report

September 29, 2014 Updates
September 28, 2014 Updates

But his love of basketball outweighs all, he says. Stephenson became one of the most improved players in basketball last season, and now he eyes an even bigger role with the Hornets, one of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference. “I mean I ain’t going to say I’m on top, but I feel like I’m close,” said Stephenson, who will join teammates in Asheville this week for the start of training camp. “If I just keep working hard I can be past the top. I want to be one of the best players to play the game. It’s not just being nice and a good player. I want to be the best.” Charlotte Observer

His maturity still lagged far behind his basketball talents, though. “Because of who he was, he had been sheltered,” Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said. “He’s from a very close-knit family, and they tried to protect him, and rightfully so because of the hype he received at a young age. He hadn’t really been outside of his web, so to speak, where he had to meet new people and talk to new people. We spent a lot of time, just him growing up and meeting new people, trusting new people, talking to new people. “He’s been through a lot for a young guy, so he’s got a lot of safeguards up. He doesn’t trust a lot of people, which is a good thing nowadays as a pro athlete and you’re meeting people. He’s definitely layered when it comes to that. Because he was such a big name at such a young age and some of the things that have gone on and the accusations he’s had to deal with.” Charlotte Observer

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