Lance Stephenson finally signed with a team last week and that team was the New Orleans Pelicans. Stephenson signed a minimum deal, but here’s the catch: only $100,000 out of $1.22 million is guaranteed, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
Just three years ago, Stephenson was a borderline All-Star on an Indiana Pacers team that made the Eastern Conference Finals. That summer as a free agent, Stephenson turned down a five-year contract from the Pacers and proceeded to ink a three-year deal with the Charlotte Hornets. After one abysmal season, the Hornets dumped Stephenson in a trade with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Midway through the 2015-2016 campaign, the Clippers dealt him to the Memphis Grizzlies. Now, the 26-year-old is about to join his fourth team since departing Indiana in the summer of 2014.
The veteran swingman actually did not have a bad year last season.
He averaged 8.3 points and 3.2 rebounds per game off of 48.1 percent shooting. Most of his production came with the Grizzlies, where he posted averages of 14.2 points and 4.4 boards off a 47.4 percent clip.
The issue with Stephenson has never been his talent. It has been locker room issues, which has made teams reluctant to take a chance on him despite his clear ability. For the Pelicans, this is the very definition of a low-risk, potentially high-reward deal. In the NBA world, they are paying him virtually nothing, and should it not work out, they can just cut ties and give him the $100,000.
It just demonstrates how fast and hard Stephenson has fallen. This is a player who was once looked at as one of the top wings in the league. Now, he is struggling to even find a franchise that will take him.