Lance Stephenson’s antics did not go without punishment during Saturday’s game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Charlotte Hornets.
During the third quarter, Stephenson hit a three-pointer in transition after a pass from LeBron James. After making the shot, Stephenson simulated playing an air guitar in the direction of Miles Bridges. That earned Stephenson a technical foul.
Lance pulled out the air guitar in Miles Bridges face and got a technical pic.twitter.com/3Yg3cQwcP4
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 16, 2018
That’s a classic example of Lance being Lance. Sometimes he provides highlight reel plays. When he does, there’s a decent chance there will be an entertaining moment like this — or something even weirder.
Though he has now joined LeBron James and the Merry Pranksters in LA, Lance Stephenson is admitting that his Indiana Pacers exit was less than ideal.
In an interview with Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports that ran on Thursday, the Lakers swingman opened up about Indiana’s decision this summer to decline his team option for the 2018-19 NBA season.
“Ah, man. I never … I was even surprised when they declined my option,” said Stephenson. “Just to be a free agent again this year was like, ‘Man, again…” I was definitely upset, but you move on from stuff like that, and you learn and you get stronger from it.”
Stephenson did however leave the door open for a potential return to the Pacers eventually, saying of the possibility, “You never know, man.”
The 27-year-old had spent six seasons with the Pacers across two stints, taking part in many playoff battles with them and becoming a fan favorite. However, the team chose to decline his fairly cheap $4.3 million option for next season in a decision that drew sharp criticism from some.
Stephenson then went on to sign a one-year, $4.5 million deal with the Lakers. If you believe what Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard said recently though, the team may have just wanted to preserve flexibility by declining Stephenson’s option and intended to bring him back.
Instead of simply tolerating Lance Stephenson on the Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron James actually appears to have been actively recruiting him.
Speaking with the media on Friday, Indiana Pacers president Kevin Pritchard said he offered Stephenson a better deal than the Lakers did. Pritchard said a phone call from James to Stephenson sealed it, per local reporter Mark Montieth.
@PacersKev clarified that he offered @StephensonLance a better deal than Lakers, but phone call from @KingJames sealed it. No hard feelings on either side. Especially now that @TyrekeEvans has signed.
— Mark Montieth (@MarkMontieth) July 6, 2018
The Pacers turned down Stephenson’s $4.3 million team option for the 2018-19 season before free agency began, though it sounds like they were just trying to maximize their flexibility and planned to bring him back. He wound up signing a one-year, $4.5 million deal with the Lakers instead.
A report earlier this week seemed to suggest that James was merely OK with Stephenson’s arrival, but now we know he definitely wanted his ex-adversary.
Despite all of the bitter and bizarre battles that they have fought over the years, LeBron James seems to have no qualms about Lance Stephenson joining him on the Los Angeles Lakers.
Tania Ganguli of the LA Times reported on Monday that Stephenson’s agent called James’ agent to make sure that The King was OK with Stephenson joining the Lakers.
If you worried about chemistry between LeBron James and Lance Stephenson, here's reason for optimism. They've had some battles, but Stephenson's agent called Rich Paul to make sure LeBron was ok with him coming, sources tell me and @BA_Turner
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) July 2, 2018
The 27-year-old Stephenson agreed to a one-year, $4.5 million deal with the Lakers on Sunday, just hours after it was announced that James would be signing a four-year deal with the team.
The two players had some heated clashes over the years competing out East, and Stephenson earned himself a reputation as perhaps the NBA’s premier LeBron pest. It doesn’t sound like they will have any trouble co-existing in LA though, despite the funny jokes that the Internet had about the odd pairing.
The NBA offseason is heating up, and the LeBron James to the Los Angeles Lakers move was certainly the main course. But the news that the Lakers are also signing Lance Stephenson is definitely the dessert.
James has more history with Stephenson than few other players in the league. Here’s a look:
– In 2012, Lance mocked LeBron for choking on a free throw
– In 2014, he trash talked LeBron during the playoffs
– In 2014, Lance notoriously blew in LeBron’s ear
– In Jan. 2018, they got after each other during a game
– In April 2018, Lance smacked LeBron in the head
– In April 2018, LeBron shoved Lance during the playoffs
Naturally, news of him joining LeBron on the Lakers led to some great reactions.
Oh my god. https://t.co/gDHPgEuxit
— Marcus Vanderberg (@marcowill) July 2, 2018
THIS ONLY GETS BETTER!!!! https://t.co/qV8WpcTxJ5
— Candace Buckner (@CandaceDBuckner) July 2, 2018
Was LeBron in Lance’s ear? https://t.co/SZ14ZcCUue
— Brett Dawson (@BDawsonWrites) July 2, 2018
So is this going to happen, like, every day at practice now? pic.twitter.com/Ib7mrI3VJR
— Kristen Rodgers (@KristenERodgers) July 2, 2018
"One day we will be teammates." pic.twitter.com/hD7wpwaDJK
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) July 2, 2018
I literally laughed out loud. https://t.co/TYq7eboOpI
— Al Iannazzone (@Al_Iannazzone) July 2, 2018
LeBron James will no longer have to worry about being defended by Lance Stephenson, in games at least.
Stephenson has agreed to a deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, according to Yahoo’s Shams Charania.
Lance Stephenson has agreed to a deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, league sources tell Yahoo.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 2, 2018
Stephenson became a free agent when the Indiana Pacers declined his option — a move that was met with criticism. “Born Ready” was receiving interest from many teams, but his new home will be with the Lakers.
Given how much of a pest he’s been while defending James over the past several years, it’s not a huge surprise that James (ostensibly) approved of the signing.
This may just be the beginning of players wanting to come play with LeBron in LA.
Paul George isn’t too pleased with how his former team just did one of his former teammates.
On Tuesday, the Indiana Pacers decided to decline Lance Stephenson’s fairly cheap $4.3 million team option for next season, making him a free agent.
The Indiana Pacers are declining Lance Stephenson’s $4.3M team option and he’ll be a free agent, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 25, 2018
The decision got a pretty strong reaction out of George, who took to Instagram just minutes later to shade the Pacers. The five time All-Star forward posted a screenshot of the news and wrote, “Wow and I was the bad guy huh?! In this business you do what’s right for YOU! #PacerLegend”
A post shared by Paul George (@ygtrece) on
George and Stephenson entered the league together, having both been drafted by the Pacers in 2010. They were teammates in Indiana for a total of five seasons, which included multiple deep playoff runs with each other.
While often times volatile and unpredictable, the 27-year-old Stephenson had become a Pacers fan favorite over the years with his impassioned play and his dedication to the team. It looks like that ultimately got him nowhere though, and George, who had his own disagreements with Indiana, can empathize.