Amid their extremely disappointing 6-19 start, the Hornets reportedly aggressively sought a trade.
You better believe those discussions included Lance Stephenson, the talented and mercurial guard signed just last summer whose arrival coincided with Charlotte’s downfall. Not only has Stephenson struggled on the court, he might be an issue in the locker room, too.
The Hornets reportedly had teams interested in Stephenson, but non were interested enough.
Ramona Shelburne and Chris Broussard of ESPN:
Underwhelmed by the quality of trade offers they’ve received for Lance Stephenson, the Charlotte Hornets have decided to keep the volatile guard “for now,” according to league sources.
But while sources say as many as seven teams registered interest, including Miami and Brooklyn, no offers intrigued Charlotte and several teams that called did not make trade proposals.
Another factor in the Hornets’ decision to keep Stephenson is their growing belief that a groin injury has hindered him all season and played a significant role in his lack of production. Stephenson is expected to miss the next two games because of the groin and did not travel to Philadelphia for Friday’s game against the 76ers.
Charlotte feels the injury has affected Stephenson’s movement and conditioning, according to sources, and that just as he was getting healthy, he reinjured the groin Wednesday against Phoenix. The Hornets want to rest Stephenson, let him heal and see if he can either fit in with Charlotte or re-establish his trade value.
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This is definitely a “You can’t fire me, because I quit” scenario. The Hornets are pulling Stephenson off the market? Please. That wreaks of them just not finding any takers.
This groin injury might be completely real, a valid excuse for Stephenson’s struggles. Let him heal, and he’ll start playing well enough to lift Charlotte into the playoff picture or at least increase his trade value.
But it sure sounds like an exaggerated excuse, one that would tell other teams Stephenson’s problems are completely fixable.
Ultimately, the proof will be in the pudding. At some point, Stephenson will have to heal from this injury (“injury”?) and become more productive. If he does, the Hornets will have better options.
Waiting is probably Charlotte’s best option. It’s not worth attaching a valuable draft pick just to dump Stephenson at, seemingly, his lowest point. There’s no sense continuing trade discussions and broadcasting to the league how desperate you are to get rid of him.
But for the market to truly change, the Hornets can’t just use this negotiating trick. They’ll need Stephenson to actually play better.