Yahoo- In a high-risk, high-reward move, the Los Angeles Clippers have acquired guard Lance Stephenson from the Charlotte Hornets, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The Clippers are sending forwards Spencer Hawes and Matt Barnes to the Hornets, sources said. The teams were having a trade call with the NBA office to finalize the deal on Monday evening, sources said.
For the Clippers, this is a fascinating acquisition. Stephenson, 24, is a talented but temperamental player who turned out to be a free-agent bust for the Hornets. Charlotte has been desperate to unload Stephenson since early in the 2014-15 season.
Well, not a lot to hate about this trade. If nothing else, the departure of Spencer Hawes and not having to see the completely underwhelming 7 footer sit on the bench during the most important moments of the season will be a welcomed absence. That albatross of a contract will no longer have to haunt the dreams of the Clippers faithful for the next three years, and that is to be considered a win in itself. If you told Clippers fans and front office alike that there was a way for them to get better while unloading Hawes and his anchor-esque contract they would have done it, no matter what the return was.
Just so happens the return is a enigmatic wing player that has the potential to be great and a contract that could be up at the end of the season, depending what the team decides. Hard to argue this doesn't make the Clippers a more talented basketball team right now. In fact, the only aspect of the game in which Matt Barnes is superior to Lance Stephenson is heart. Lance is a better defender, a better passer, a better playmaker, and a better scorer. Of course this is all dependent upon keeping his head in the game, but when he is focused he can be as good as he chooses to be. There is a reason that Lance Stephensen was one of the most sought after free agents just last offseason, and one disaster of a season, while playing for an annual disaster of a franchise, isn't enough to take away from that. If there is one thing that Doc Rivers has been known to do in his time as an NBA head coach it is to motivate. He may not be the best GM. He may not be the best X's and O's guy. However, I'll be damned if he doesn't get the most out of his players. The upward trajectory of Blake Griffin, Deandre Jordan, JJ Redick, and Austin Rivers careers speaks to that ability. With any luck, the same will hold true for Lance Stephenson. He is already the second best backcourt ball handler on a team that still lacks any depth whatsoever. It shouldn't be hard to get him involved in the offense and keep him involved in the offense. Especially with an aging all-star point guard that could stand to benefit from being relieved of the pressure that comes with running the offense for 40+ minutes a night.
The Clippers still have a lot to do this offseason. Jordan and Rivers are still free agents and there is still a huge hole remaining in their front court depth, but this is a step in the right direction. A calculated risk that may have cost them a bit of grit, but didn't cost them all that much talent. For better of worse, It's a pretty huge feat to gain personality in a trade that saw you lose Matt Barnes...