Lance Stephenson trade rumors kinda blew up over the weekend. What started off as teams just calling the Hornets about Stephenson has evolved into the Hornets actively seeking to trade Stephenson. The first report came from Marc Stein of ESPN. In the report it was stated that a deal "was not imminent" and the Hornets were not in a "Move him at all costs mode". So as expected the Hornets are taking, and even making, phones calls about Stephenson and exploring their options.
Then, Adrian Wojarnowski of Yahoo! Sports chimed in with more details about the trade talks themselves. The Hornets are supposedly targeting the Indiana Pacers and Brooklyn Nets as trade destinations for Stephenson. Everybody remembers how Indiana tried to re-sign Stephenson in the offseason, but Stephenson instead chose to sign with Charlotte, betting on himself by taking less money and years for the possibility of a larger deal down the line. The Nets meanwhile are ready to blow things up in Brooklyn. They've realized the roster put together won't be able to compete and as such are looking for any possible trades.
The Pacers make sense and also don't make sense as a destination. They make sense because Indiana tried to re-sign Stephenson in the offseason, they clearly had a value for him. It doesn't make sense because there were all kinds of rumors going on about internal locker room problems involving Stephenson. Considering Stephenson is already involved in trade rumors, does Indiana really want to bring him back?
The Nets are a team that could use Stephenson, but again, is he really worth it? Stephenson has a favorable contract and a team looking to re-tool could use a young player on a favorable contract. Between them and and Indiana, the Nets make the most sense of the two. Brooklyn wants to re-tool and get back to winning as soon as possible and Stephenson can help that.
But the Nets and Pacers both know one thing, they have all the leverage. The Nets might be trying to blow things up but they aren't in a rush to trade for a brand new contract, albeit a favorable one. Meanwhile, the Pacers know about everything Stephenson was a part of last year. They aren't going to take back a possible headache for nothing. That's why, according to Woj, they're both asking for first round draft picks.
Are these high asking prices? Yes, but Lance Stephenson has enough red flags that asking for a first round pick for him makes some sense. However that does not mean the Hornets have to give in to such high asking prices. If a Stephenson trade does happen, talks are in their earliest stages and that's when asking prices are at their highest. There likely won't be much noise about reasonable trades until talks get more serious. For now though, the Hornets are going to have to play with a black cloud of rumors hanging over their heads.