HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Lance Stephenson‘s free agent summer ended a little later than expected.
But he’ll back in the Western Conference for the start of the 2016-17 NBA season after agreeing to sign a deal with the New Orleans Pelicans earlier today, as first reported by Shams Charania of The Vertical and since confirmed by multiple outlets.
Stephenson, who finished last season with the Memphis Grizzlies, will reportedly have to earn a roster spot. The Pelicans already have 15 players on their roster with guaranteed contracts, and three others (Chris Copeland, Robert Sacre and Shawn Dawson) with partially guaranteed deals.
Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry has a roster loaded with backcourt players, including rookie shooting guard Buddy Hield as well as veterans Tyreke Evans (returning from injury), Norris Cole, E’Twaun Moore and Langston Galloway. But they’ll begin the season without point guard Jrue Holiday, who is taking a leave of absence to care for and support his pregnant wife Lauren as she also deals with a brain tumor.
With Anthony Davis returning from injury, Gentry needs to surround his franchise big man with quality depth. Stephenson will have to scrap to be a part of that group.
He’s shown that ability in the past, particularly during his time with the Indiana Pacers earlier in his career and for the Grizzlies in the playoffs last season, when he averaged 13 points. And at 25, Stephenson is in physical prime. In six NBA seasons Stephenson has averaged 8.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and three assists. He spent his four seasons with the Pacers, one with the Charlotte Hornets and last season with the Los Angeles Clippers and Grizzlies.