One of basketball’s unique characters and grittiest defenders is shooting for a comeback and the Philadelphia 76ers may be getting in on the action. According to Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Haynes, Lance Stephenson held a private workout on Friday morning in Las Vegas with reps from multiple NBA teams in attendance.
Per Haynes, the Sixers, Milwaukee Bucks, Denver Nuggets and Brooklyn Nets were among the squads expected to have eyes on Stephenson at the workout.
During a recent appearance with Haynes on the Posted Up podcast, Stephenson — who is only 30 years old — made it clear that he still has the itch to compete after last suiting up for the CBA’s Liaoning Flying Leopards in 2020.
“It’s hard for me to watch basketball right now, but it motivates me. It makes me want to get back out there and be helpful and play basketball, man,” Stephenson said. “I miss the game, it’s just tough. … As soon as I see a game on, right after the game I’m going to the gym, going to shoot. I just love this game.”
Ear-Blower and ‘LeBron Stopper’
Although Stephenson’s last go-round in the Association was with the Los Angeles Lakers as a teammate of LeBron James during the 2018-19 season, the nine-year pro is perhaps best known for his run-ins with James as a member of the Indiana Pacers. In 2014, he made headlines for blowing into James’ ear during the Eastern Conference Finals.
He may have received some criticism at the time for his actions, but Stephenson did make an impression on another icon of the game. Namely, Michael Jordan.
After four years in Indy, Jordan’s Charlotte Hornets signed Stephenson as a free agent that summer. His Airness later confessed that Stephenson’s battles with the superstar played a role in his team’s decision to pursue him.
“One of the reasons why I admire his game is he takes on challenges,” Jordan told ESPN at the time. “For us to get any place in the East, we need someone to challenge LeBron. He challenged LeBron.”
The latest Sixers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Sixers newsletter here!
Where He’s Been & Where He’s Going
Aside from his battles with LeBron, Stephenson is perhaps best remembered for the big-time impact he had as a member of the Pacers from 2010-2014. During the 2013-14 season, the Brooklyn, New York product was one of the better wing players in the Association, averaging 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists per contest.
That year, he finished second in the voting for the NBA Most Improved Player award, getting beat out by Goran Dragic.
After a year in Charlotte, he bounced around the league, playing for the LA Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Pelicans, Minnesota Timberwolves and again for the Pacers before landing with the Lakers.
From an analytics standpoint, Stephenson is an awkward fit for the modern NBA. He’s a 6-foot-6 wing who is only a 31.5% three-point shooter and has largely been an inefficient scorer overall. On the other hand, he has the ability to generate his own offense on occasion and is a bona fide disruptor defensively.
At this point, he’s probably just hoping for a roster spot and a chance to prove he can still contribute. Philly may or may not be the place for him, but the Sixers could definitely use a player with his special brand of gumption.
Or, as Heavy’s Sean Deveney put it: “Sixers have too many nice guys, not enough ear-blowers.”
In 508 career NBA games (199 starts), Stephenson has put up 8.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists per contest.
- Former Sixers Sharpshooter Joins Nets as Assistant: Report
- Analyst Makes Grim Prediction About Simmons-Sixers Situation
- Georges Niang Speaks Out on Playing With Joel Embiid
- Stash Pick Petrusev Has Big Goals With Sixers