The Brooklyn Nets have interest in acquiring the Charlotte Hornets' Lance Stephenson, Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported Thursday.
Nets talking to several teams, but officials around league say Nets making second hard push for intel on Charlotte's Lance Stephenson.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) January 16, 2015
Brooklyn has accelerated trade discussions for Brook Lopez with the intention on moving him soon, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) January 16, 2015
Stephenson's season in Charlotte has been tumultuous. While the Hornets' decision to sign Stephenson was widely praised by analysts shortly after he signed with the team in July, his contributions both on and off the court have been inconsistent at best. That isn't to say Stephenson's time in Charlotte was a disaster, but merely that it has taken longer than expected for him to acclimate to the Hornets' systems.
A recent injury to his groin caused him to miss 14 games, which further hindered his progress with the team. Stephenson made noticeable strides in his ability to play with the Hornets rather than trying to lead him just before his injury, which makes it difficult to definitively assess his development and future with the team.
Brook Lopez has been available for quite some time, Wojnarowski implied, and that's hardly a surprise. The Nets are performing well below expectations this season, and an injury to Deron Williams and owner Mikhail Prokhorov's desire to sell the franchise haven't helped in that regard. The Nets are currently paying just over $90 million in luxury tax alone this season, with their player payroll at an equally ludicrous $93.7 million. Considering his bill of over $180 million for the Nets' players alone and a 16-23 record, Prokhorov is intent on making big changes.
Stephenson was born and raised in Brooklyn and has stated that he would like to play for the Nets in the future.
If the Nets would in fact offer Lopez for Stephenson, an interesting opportunity arises for the Hornets. While Lopez is eerily similar to Al Jefferson in terms of play style, he's three years younger and gives the team some flexibility should they decide to cut ties with Jefferson in the future. Lopez has a player option for the 2015-16 season.
The swap would also make Gerald Henderson the unquestioned starter at the off guard spot, which would likely help the Hornets win games. Henderson's been a major part of the Hornets' best lineups this season.
However, it's also possible that the Nets offer an entirely different package for Stephenson if they determine he's worth their time. We know very little about what's going on behind the scenes. Keep an eye out.