Two years ago, Lance Stephenson wasn't a huge prize in the free agent market, but he was certainly sought after. He turned down a long-term offer from the Indiana Pacers because the annual pay wasn't what he was looking for, then he ended up taking that same annual rate in a short deal with the Charlotte Hornets.
It left the Hornets with flexibility after two years to get out of the contract this summer, but it also left Stephenson with the chance that he would see another huge deal. He just had to do one thing: avoid playing so poorly that nobody wanted him.
Well, funny thing about that. Stephenson was horrendous with the Hornets in his one year. Doc Rivers tried to salvage him on the Los Angeles Clippers last season, only to trade him halfway through the season with a first-round pick in order to acquire Jeff Green. The Memphis Grizzlies declined their option on Stephenson for next season, leaving him as a free agent and the well of interest has been bone dry. Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe says that Stephenson may have to head overseas to find his next gig.
One free agent who may have to head overseas is Lance Stephenson, whose option was not picked up by Memphis. It's uncertain why the Grizzlies passed on Stephenson, who averaged 14.2 points and shot 47.4 percent from the field in 26 games after he was acquired from the Clippers. Stephenson has enough talent to help a contender, but the question is whether his quirky personality has scared off teams.
You often see players gamble on themselves and have it work out, but this has worked out spectacularly poorly for Stephenson. He'd still have roughly three years and $27 million owed to him by the Pacers had he taken their offer of five years and $44 million back in 2014.
When the Hornets brought him in, they envisioned an impact like Nicolas Batum had this past season. Batum, in a contract year, helped the Hornets return to the postseason and it earned him a max contract this offseason to re-sign in Charlotte.
Stephenson was moved for Matt Barnes and Spencer Hawes last summer and couldn't regain his positive impact with the Clippers' bench unit. He played in 43 games (starting 10) and averaged 4.7 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 1.4 assists in 15.8 minutes. He played 26.6 minutes per game over 26 games (starting three) for Memphis after he was traded there in February. The Grizzlies were seeing unbelievable injury stretches that forced them to keep picking up as many players as possible to find healthy rotations.
He averaged 14.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 2.8 assists for the Grizzlies, but that wasn't enough to salvage interest up to this point on the free agent market.