Lance Stephenson was introduced as a member of the Charlotte Hornets on Friday, after turning down a five-year, $44 million offer to return to the Pacers.
Stephenson accepted three years and $27 million to play in Charlotte, but at a certain point, it wasn’t about the money. His antics during the Eastern Conference Finals against LeBron James and the Miami Heat included a slap to the face and blowing in LeBron’s ear, which unfortunately were acts that became more representative of Stephenson than his play was over the course of last season.
The bulk of Stephenson’s work unfairly suffered from those two actions, and he reiterated as much during his introductory presser in Charlotte.
Stephenson: “I bring more to the table than blowing in someone’s ear.”
It’s true, obviously, but it’s his own fault he has to continue to point that out.
Both Frank Vogel and Larry Bird condemned Stephenson’s non-basketball antics as they were happening, and conversations were had imploring Stephenson to dial it back and focus on playing the game instead.
That behavior is what cost him a long-term deal in free agency that more accurately reflected his skill set; Stephenson should have easily attracted four-year deals in the $10-$12 million per season range. But given his wild card nature that was on display during the playoffs, he ended up in Charlotte for less dollars over less years, still trying to explain to everyone that he’s a different dude than he’s continued to show.