Finding The Right Fit For NBA Free Agent Lance Stephenson

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Lance Stephenson

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Three NBA teams have joined the race for free-agent guard Lance Stephenson, including the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics, according to ESPN. Of course, the Indiana Pacers remain in the mix as well.

Stephenson is player arguably with the greatest risk and greatest award out there on the market. He’s just 23 years old, but is coming off a career year in his third season in the Association, one in which he flashed signs of a potential All-Star guard.

With only three years under his belt, Stephenson has the tendency to disappear at times, even games — not to mention the on-the-court antics he’s become so famous for.

Here’s the XN Sports breakdown of where Stephenson fits in best:

Indiana Pacers

Reports indicate Stephenson and the Pacers have reached an impasse in contract negotiations, as the guard wants a better offer than the five-year, $44 million offer that’s on the table.

Team president Larry Bird has already expressed frustration with Stephenson’s antics during the NBA Finals. I’m not sure whether that would be enough motivation for Stephenson to straighten out his act or enough or if Stephenson will take his talents elsewhere.

Stephenson’s scoring and defensive prowess make him a great fit for what Indy’s doing. But given this organization’s financial stance, it won’t overpay to keep him.

Dallas Mavericks

Stephenson may have to accept a role as the sixth man by joining the Mavs, becoming the No. 2 shooting guard behind incumbent Monta Ellis. Would being the sixth man allow Dallas to offer less money? Or would it discourage Stephenson from wanting to head to the Longhorn State?

Stephenson would be the second-youngest players on Dallas’ roster only behind 21-year-old Ricky Ledo. This appears to be a major risk, as he’s banking on Mark Cuban to re-assemble the roster in the near future.

Los Angeles Lakers

This is a tricky situation given Los Angeles’ interest in so many free agents at this point. Right now he’d be the second shooting guard behind Kobe Bryant, but potentially the sixth man on a starting five that could include Kobe, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol and Carmelo Anthony.

Stephenson may be more of a backup option for the Lakers if they swing and miss on ‘Melo. And if that’s the case, he may be better off finding a team where he can start — unless he’s willing to wait out Kobe’s contract.

Boston Celtics

Aside from returning Indiana, Boston might just be the next-best fit for Stephenson. Danny Ainge has constructed a very young, talented roster, one that needs an upgrade at shooting guard.

Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger, Jeff Green and Brandon Bass average 27 years of age, and the bench is even younger. Stephenson is the most developed shooting guard on the roster ahead of Avery Bradley and recently drafted James Young.

Boston is on the verge of having one of the best young teams in all the NBA — probably a year or two away from contention — but may be on the verge of something special.

Sam Spiegelman is a native New Yorker covering sports in New Orleans. He likes Game of Thrones way too much. Tweet him @samspiegs.
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