LeBron James has vocalized his desire for the Cleveland Cavaliers to sign a playmaker. Today, we learned three names who are getting a look.
Chris Haynes reported that the Cavaliers will work out Mario Chalmers, Lance Stephenson and Kirk Hinrich. While Chalmers has won an NBA championship with James, the player that undeniably sticks out in that group is Stephenson.
While Stephenson was waived by New Orleans, when healthy he was one of the most productive playmakers and defenders for the Pelicans.
But he’s also the same guy who once, quite literally, blew into LeBron’s ear when James played for the Heat.
Stephenson is undeniably the most talented player available, but it’s worth looking at his history with King James.
During the NBA playoffs in 2012, Stephenson mocked James with a choking gesture. Here’s how James responded (via Sports Illustrated):
“Lance Stephenson? You want a quote about Lance Stephenson? I’m not even going to give him the time. Knock it off.”
He was also fined $10,000 by the NBA for flopping twice against James during the 2014 NBA Eastern Conference Finals. Stephenson, even outside of his history with James, has a troubled past for various other reasons.
The Brooklyn-born high school hoops star, who helped his school win four consecutive city championships, was cut from the U.S. National’s 18U team due to chemistry reasons.
He was suspended from his school for five days in 2008 due to a fight with one of his teammates. Two years later, he was arrested for alleged domestic violence.
Stephenson recently had surgery to repair his torn groin in November and was reportedly expected to return in mid-January. The Cavaliers will see how his recovery is developing when he works out tomorrow.
He is a good fit due to his abilities as a defender, passer and as a rebounder. But the wingman (even if healthy) is a concern because Cleveland is known for its fantastic locker room chemistry.
The Cavs have veterans like Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye to complement stars like Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. They also recently added a fantastic 3-point scoring option with Kyle Korver.
J.R. Smith has had a fantastic reemergence in his career playing with the Cavaliers, though that doesn’t mean the same will happen for Stephenson.
Adding Stephenson to the mix would be a perfectly strange, chaotic option for Cleveland. Yes, it may have the most upside. But it also has the highest probability of explosion as well.