L.A. Lakers Missed out on a Potential Star by Not Signing Lance Stephenson

After making a convincing yet failed push for Carmelo Anthony, it appears the Los Angeles Lakers’ premier free-agent pickups will be Nick Young, Carlos Boozer and Jordan Hill after offering them a combined $42.75 million in total money.

All three are limited players unlikely to propel the Lakers to the playoffs, which raises the question: Why instead did the team not offer a three-year, $27 million deal with a team option—the exact deal consummated by the Charlotte Hornets—to shooting guard Lance Stephenson?

Whereas Young brings scoring and little else, Stephenson offers scoring in addition to strong defense and playmaking. Whereas Hill provides solid energy and rebounding, the former Pacer brings elite rebounding for his position and an aggressiveness matched by few in the NBA.

Whether the Lakers could have brought in the mercurial yet immensely talented 23-year-old is unclear, but what is clear is that L.A. has done little to turn things around after a season that saw it miss the playoffs for just the sixth time in its history.

The Lakers appear to be trying to bring in talented players that will help them compete this season. After all, there will be no reward for losing this year, as their first-round pick lies in the hands of the Phoenix Suns due to the failed Steve Nash trade. At the same time, they want to maintain financial flexibility with short-term deals to chase future free-agent stars.

Adding Stephenson to L.A.’s roster with the same short-term deal he reached with the Hornets would have been the perfect balance of these two goals. In fact, he may even develop into the type of superstar the team has desperately been hoping to land in free agency.

There is no denying that the Lakers needed to bring in some serious talent to surround Kobe Bryant. Stephenson may not be a superstar at the moment, and admittedly he may never end up becoming one, but h...

About the Author