The Lance Stephenson free agency saga has dragged into September. Potential employers continue to ponder if the mercurial shooting guard is worth the signing.
A franchise that might welcome him with open arms is the Orlando Magic. In the Magic Kingdom, Stephenson will be reunited with his former Indiana Pacers head coach Frank Vogel. It was in Indiana where the 6-foot-5 dynamo had the most fruitful seasons of his career.
Howard Beck of Bleacher Report believes Stephenson can regain his bearings with the Magic. Since he left the Pacers in 2014, three different head coaches have tried and failed to get the most out of the former Cincinnati standout. He could be one of those players who only thrive in a particular kind of offense.
“The Magic [is] now coached by Frank Vogel, who of course coached him in Indiana,” said Beck. “There is a guy who knows how to relate with Lance Stephenson, [and] knows how to place him in the right role. If you can get him to play his role as a defensive pressure man, as a playmaker, he could be a guy who can work out with the Magic.”
Stephenson would not be a starter with the Magic, at least for now. The team is crowded in the back court with players like D.J. Augustin, Elfrid Payton, Mario Hezonja and Evan Fournier. The Magic also signed Jeff Green to a one-year, $15 million deal this offseason. He will likely be the team’s starting small forward next season.
The aforementioned players, plus Serge Ibaka, are the kind of teammates that make Stephenson dangerously effective. He plays best when defenses aren’t primarily focused on him. Simply put, he thrives as a free-to-roam ball handler from off the bench.
His stint with the Charlotte Hornets failed because he was asked to carry the team offensively. As a member of the Los Angeles Clippers, Stephenson did not fit Doc Rivers’ system. In Memphis, Stephenson found success playing alongside all-star teammates.
Tim Cato of SB Nation indicated that Stephenson’s overall temperament is a major concern for interested teams. His antics on and off the court makes him a volatile presence in the locker room. There were a few occasions in the past in which Stephenson had to be restrained from his own teammates.