Hornets GM on Lance Stephenson: ‘He never fit in great’

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Lance Stephenson was the big free agent acquisition for the Hornets last summer, and the thinking was that he’d be the perfect perimeter compliment to Al Jefferson’s wizardry in the low post.

But Stephenson wasn’t yet capable of emerging into the player Charlotte envisioned.

He took a step backward in his development, fell out of the starting lineup by January, and was receiving DNP-CDs on a regular basis by the time the season was finished.

The Hornets weren’t willing to let the Stephenson project continue into next season, so they traded him to the Clippers — partially because the fit was simply never there.

Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer:

“Sometimes when you make a trade or a signing it just doesn’t work out well,” Hornets general manager Rich Cho said in a conference call. “He never fit in great.

“Sometimes you don’t know how (a player) will fit until he plays for your team.”

Stephenson went from a starter to a reserve to briefly a player out of the rotation entirely. Cho said he did not become a locker-room distraction despite his frustration with the situation.

“I thought Lance handled it really well,” Cho said. “I thought it was a shock to his system that he was not playing so much. But he handled it very professionally.”

The part about the way Stephenson handled himself was likely an important factor in the Clippers agreeing to the trade, when they had previously been unwilling to do so when the opportunity presented itself during the regular season.
In Los Angeles, the expectations will be far lower where Stephenson is concerned. His role will be similar to the one he played with the Pacers, when he was only expected to harass opponents on the defensive end of the floor, while creating offensively in small doses.
If the veterans in the locker room can keep him focused, it could be a move that benefits both Stephenson and the Clippers alike.