When LeBron James first joined the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018, the front office led by Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka put together a rather odd roster. One of the players that the team signed was Lance Stephenson, who was noted for being a LeBron antagonist in the past. That 2018-2019 Lakers team disappointed and failed to make the playoffs.
Johnson ended up resigning and Pelinka took over basketball operations. He made major changes to the roster and Stephenson was not among the players he decided to keep. Despite making a career out of being a solid role player and defender, nobody has taken a chance on the veteran guard since his Lakers stint. He’s attempted comebacks and even played in China for a bit. During a recent interview on Posted Up with Chris Haynes, Stephenson made his case as to why an NBA team should sign him.
“I feel like I’m a great defender, I got better at my leadership skills and helping the younger guys and helping the team just be focused, especially on the defensive end because I feel like defense wins games,” Stephenson said. “I think my shot is … I’ve been shooting lights out, I’ve just been shooting jump shots, trying to work on my spot jump shots. Just bringing that energy. You know, I always brung that energy.”
At only 30-years-old, Stephenson should have plenty left in the tank athletically. If he has actually improved his shooting, he could be a solid three-and-D player to come off the bench for a number of teams.
ALL the latest Los Angeles Lakers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Lakers newsletter here!
Stephenson Describes Playing With LeBron James
While he was quickly able to turn things around, LeBron’s intro into Los Angeles wasn’t great. The Lakers had a bad roster filled with young projects and veterans. Despite that, LeBron did the best he could with what he had. If he didn’t get hurt during that season, the team could’ve made the playoffs. Stephenson had nothing but good things to say about the superstar.
“How he approached the game,” Stephenson said when asked if he noticed a difference between playing with LeBron as opposed to against him. “LeBron is super focused and he’s the first one in the gym. He’s like a coach on the floor. He makes sure everybody on his team got their head right and the way that I see how he approached the game, helped my game a lot.”
LeBron has developed into a really strong leader over the years and that’s been evident by the great chemistry the Lakers have had.
Is Stephenson a Fit With the Lakers?
If Stephenson is hoping to make a return, the Lakers should be a team his agent calls. He hit 37.1% of his 3-pointers during his lone season in Los Angeles. If he truly has been working hard on his shot, he could get closer to 40% over a season.
However, there’s no guarantee that’s going to happen. Stephenson would likely be better off elsewhere. The Lakers don’t need another defensive stopper who can hit the occasional three. They already had a chance to try out Stephenson and it didn’t work out.