All we’ve been hearing from the Twitter hounds since Lance Stephenson signed with the New Orleans Pelicans on a partially guaranteed deal is, “We already have 15 guaranteed spots, so some one has to go. Who will it be?”
The main three virtual victims that are being killed off 140 characters at a time are Alonzo Gee, Alexis Ajinca and lately I’ve heard a few call for Cheick Diallo’s head on a platter. I feel like the answer to who goes is so obvious, yet I haven’t seen a single writer propose it yet — Tyreke Evans. Evans clearly isn’t in the Pelicans’ plans beyond this season, and it is pretty easy to surmise that they don’t see much use for him this year either. He can’t be traded with this injury, so the Pelicans should just waive him, right? Why would you cut a guy like Gee who provides elite level defense at a very low cost, or worse give up on an intriguing young prospect like Diallo for one year of Lance Stephenson? Evans can’t play right now, and may not be able to play all season. Alvin Gentry has done a lot to sour the relationship with Evans, and likely wouldn’t use him much — if at all — this year. We’d be paying him to not play. We may as well give him his freedom, which is likely best for both parties as things currently stand.
Also, the reason to waive Tyreke for Lance is that Lance is the same kind of player as Tyreke. Actually, he’d be the answer to the complex equation: the square root of (Tyreke Evans x Tony Allen) x .70 divided by the smiley-faced poo emjoi + two flexing arm emojis x (the blowing wind emoji + the crown emoji). In a non-ridiculous summation, he’s the halfway point between Tyreke Evans and Tony Allen, but somehow not as good as that sounds. First, let’s look at how Lance measures up with Tyreke physically:
|Tyreke Evans||6'-5.25''||220.6 lbs||6'-11.25''||34''|
|Lance Stephenson||6'-5.75''||227 lbs||6'-10.5''||33''|
In 2013-14 with the the Indiana Pacers, Stephenson lead the league in triple doubles, posting a solid stat line of 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists. He is a guy who can play the 1-3, and stuff every column of the stat sheet. He’s not overly athletic, but he is big and strong for a guard.
On the flip side, Lance is also known for being very ball-dominant and has been accused of bogging down possessions with his over-dribbling — which is why I don’t understand the signing. If Evans was a problem, how does adding Stephenson help? Although he’s probably slightly better on defense, isn’t Lance just a worse at scoring and creating version of Tyreke? I mean, they even wear the same number! Here is a compilation of their top 10 plays of their careers. Please take notice of how eerily similar they look.
Clearly I’m an Evans fan, so I value the kind of game Stephenson can bring to New Orleans, I just found it an odd signing considering the insinuated fit issues with Evans last season. With only 100K of his contract guaranteed this is a great flyer by Demps if you remove the constraints of Gentry’s offense. Even with those perceived fit issues if we get anything like that ‘13-14 Stephenson, or even something like last year’s version (especially the Memphis edition) where he shot over 38% from three while also providing some playmaking and rebounding he could help this team stay afloat during Jrue Holiday’s absence.
The thing about Lance is that while is game is unpredictable it is always interesting.
He can make a solid play like this:
But in the next instance have a mind-blowing head-scratcher:
On media day Lance proclaimed that he fits this team’s style of play because it’s run-and-gun and he can play, “without thinking.” That statement probably made Bird Writes’ editor David Fisher burp up a hot vomit, but for some guys — and I think Lance and Tyreke are these kind of guys — flying up and down the court and playing with instinct actually brings the best out of them. They are more jazz than prog rock. Abstract expressionism over photorealism. That being said, I don’t know if Lance’s view of Gentry’s offense and how he fits it is completely accurate without major adaptations to the scheme.
Training camp should provide some interesting battles. With Evans and Pondexter recovering from injuries, Jrue Holiday being unavailable and Solomon Hill possibly being better suited to play the four, Lance’s ability to play the 1-3, rebound, defend and create shots for others will probably earn him a roster spot — and I’m strangely (?) looking forward to seeing if it works.
The Lance Stephenson Era is brought to you by Siouxsie & The Banshees by way of the Beatles: