Hornets coach Steve Clifford: Lance Stephenson not a star

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Lance Stephenson’s minutes have dwindled over the Hornets’ last five games – 39 to 38 to 33 to 28 to 23. He’s sat for Charlotte’s last two fourth quarters, the final 20 minutes yesterday.

The Hornets lost all five games – and the two before that.

At 4-12, Charlotte is the NBA’s most disappointing team, and Stephenson is its most disappointing player.

Michael Wallace of ESPN:

Hornets coach Steve Clifford believes Lance Stephenson’s problems adjusting during his first season in Charlotte are partly due to the guard’s struggles to live up to external expectations.

“To be fair, one of the things that’s made it more difficult for him is that he came here and people proclaimed him as the next superstar,” Clifford said Wednesday. “He’s not a star. He’s a guy that has talent to become a star. To be a star in this league, you have to do it over years.”

Stephenson, who left the Pacers to sign with the Hornets, is handling more responsibility than ever. So is Clifford.

The player is learning how to deal with it, and the coach is learning how to reach him. This isn’t the first time Clifford has been critical of Stephenson, and it might not be the last. This is very much a work in progress.

Here’s the good news for the Hornets: As Clifford noted, Stephenson is very talented. Plus, in the East, they’re still within striking distance of the playoffs.

If Stephenson gets on track – due to Clifford’s prodding or not – Charlotte can still make some noise. Clifford is just trying to motivate Stephenson to make that happen.