Lance Stephenson blames Hornets for not treating him like a star
Lance Stephenson’s tenure with the Charlotte Hornets was a disaster on the level of Kevin Federline’s rap career, and now the 25-year-old is placing the blame squarely on the franchise for not putting him in a position to succeed.
Stephenson, who was traded to the Clippers this summer just months after signing a three-year, $27 million deal with Charlotte, put the Hornets on blast in an interview with Dan Woike of the Orange County Register on Sunday. He scoffed at Hornets GM Rich Cho who, at the time of the signing, called Stephenson “one of the best young players in the league.”
“I don’t feel that,” Stephenson said. “I was just sitting in the corner. That’s not trying to be a star. A star normally gets the ball.”
Interestingly enough, Stephenson’s usage rate with the Hornets last season (21.1 percent) was actually higher than it was in his breakout season with Indiana in 2013-14 (19.4 percent). The problem lay squarely in Stephenson’s efficiency on the touches he did get as he saw a dropoff in shooting percentage splits from 49/35/71 in 2013-14 to 38/17/63 in 2014-15. While he did play with two highly ball-dominant players in Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson and while Hornets head coach Steve Clifford doesn’t always have the most sound offensive principles, the fact of the matter is that Stephenson’s struggles last season were almost entirely his own doing.
If you remember, Stephenson also had to respond to reports that claimed he was causing issues in the locker room.
Still, Stephenson points the finger at the Hornets for not treating him like the star he thinks he is.
“I think the way they wanted me to be a star isn’t the way my game is,” he said.
On the bright side, Born Ready feels a lot more comfortable with the Clippers so far.
“I’ve got the ball in my hands,” Stephenson said of Doc Rivers’ offense. “We’re moving; we’re screening for each other. Everybody touches the ball in this unit.”
When it comes to the practical application during the regular season though, Stephenson might not find things to be much better playing in the Clippers’ second unit alongside some fellow black holes like Jamal Crawford, Austin Rivers, and Josh Smith. But in a more low-usage role where he can serve as a primary playmaker whenever he’s on the floor, this could be exactly the situation Stephenson needs to rehabilitate his brand after one of the worst individual seasons in recent NBA history.