The Los Angeles Clippers and Charlotte Hornets have agreed to trade Lance Stephenson to Los Angeles in exchange for Matt Barnes and Spencer Hawes, reports Marc Stein of ESPN. The deal is now official.
Stephenson joined the Hornets last season after a breakout year with the Indiana Pacers, but never found his bearings in Charlotte and completely fell out of the rotation. Rumors about chemistry issues abounded and his exit from the franchise was a certainty, provided someone was willing to take back the $9 million that are still guaranteed in his contract. After a disappointing second-round exit, the Clippers took the risk of trading for him in the hopes that he can return to form playing for a contender.
It's a gamble by Doc Rivers, considering Stephenson averaged eight points on 37 percent shooting from the field and 17 percent from beyond the arc last season. If the temperamental shooting guard goes back to his previous level, it could pay off and be the type of move that gets the Clippers over the hump. Stephenson is only one year removed from averaging 14 points, seven rebounds and four assists per game and playing above-average defense for a team that made the Eastern conference finals. At his best, the former Pacer is one of the more versatile and dynamic wings in the league.
Losing Matt Barnes leaves the Clippers with a severe lack of height at the wing, which could prove to be problematic if Stephenson doesn't pan out. What makes the trade worthy for Los Angeles is the fact that it will shed the $16 million Hawes is still owed over the next three seasons. The big man was supposed to provide spacing next to both Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, but never reached the level he had showed in the past.
It's unclear how well Barnes and Hawes fit in Charlotte, but with the Hornets not close to contending, they can afford to be patient and try to flip both incoming players for more assets. Barnes could also possibly be waived.
Sources: Hornets undecided about whether they'll keep Matt Barnes for next season, when he's due $3.5M in the final year of his contract.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) junio 16, 2015