The Los Angeles Lakers raised some eyebrows when they inked eight-year veteran Lance Stephenson to a one-year, $4.5 million contract on Tuesday, and not in the best way.
Aside from the fact that he has a history with LeBron James, who the Lakers signed earlier this month (in case you forgot), Stephenson’s fit with the team is questionable, especially for what he’s making. He’s not an efficient scorer by an stretch of the imagination, he has a hard time playing off of the ball and his defense looks better in games than it does on paper.
In other words, he might be bad, but Stephenson still feels he can make an impact with the Lakers this season. He is especially looking forward to playing alongside the Lakers’ young core, who he said gave his team problems last year.
“Playing against them, it was tough,” Stephenson said in an interview on Spectrum SportsNet on Tuesday. “Those guys are very hungry. I see a lot of potential and think those guys are very, very excited to play with LeBron and win games this year. I think this year will be good.”
Stephenson said he’s already been in contact with a few of his teammates, including Kyle Kuzma, who he said he has a rapport with from years ago.
“I’m really cool with Kuz. I’m going to see him probably in like three more hours,” Stephenson said. “We’re gonna get up and talk a little bit and get ready for the season ... Everybody definitely underestimated him and he proved everybody wrong by working hard, being in the gym and getting with the coaching staff so I feel like he improved a lot this year.
“We actually worked out together two years ago at Impact in Vegas so I already knew what his game was like before he even got drafted. Nobody else knew about it, now they know.”
Stephenson will likely spend most of his time on the court alongside Kuzma with the second unit, but it’s unclear exactly what role head coach Luke Walton has in mind for him. Will he be a de facto point guard? Is he going to be a spot up shooter? Is he going to be the starting center the Lakers so desperately need?
We’ll find out in due time, and Stephenson seems excited to do so.
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