Report: Ex-Laker Lance Stephenson to Sign 1-Year, $4M Contract with Chinese Team

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistAugust 1, 2019

Los Angeles Lakers' Lance Stephenson (6) reacts to a missed 3-point shot during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors Thursday, April 4, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

After going unsigned during the first wave of NBA free agency, veteran swingman Lance Stephenson is taking his talents overseas.

According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, Stephenson agreed to a one-year, $4 million deal with the Liaoning Flying Leopards of the Chinese Basketball Association.

This comes after the Cincinnati product signed a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers last offseason after the Indiana Pacers declined his team option for the 2018-19 campaign.

Stephenson previously played some of the best basketball of his career for the Pacers. Indiana selected him in the second round of the 2010 NBA draft, and he helped lead the Pacers to the playoffs in each of his first four years and back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals in 2013 and 2014.

He was a constant triple-double threat during the 2013-14 campaign and averaged 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game. However, he has been a journeyman since and played for the Charlotte Hornets, Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Pelicans, Minnesota Timberwolves, Pacers again and Lakers over the last five seasons. He suited up for three different teams in 2016-17 alone.

Stephenson shot 37.1 percent from deep in 2018-19 on his way to averaging 7.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.

While he is better known for some of his demonstrations on the court—blowing in LeBron James' ear when the Pacers battled the Miami Heat and playing air guitar when he hits three-pointers—he will be just 29 years old throughout the 2019-20 season and is playoff-tested.

At 6'6", Stephenson is versatile enough to play off the ball or handle it and can work in a number of different lineup combinations with the ability to defend multiple positions.

Although he could have been a bench option in the NBA, Stephenson should now be a star in China for one season. If he thrives like he should, perhaps it will be easier to land an NBA contract next offseason.