The Charlotte Hornets — after making the playoffs last year and signing Lance Stephenson in the offseason as well as extending point guard Kemba Walker — enter tonight’s contest against the Warriors with a substandard 4-12 record. Recent reports suggest Stephenson was the cause of Roy Hibbert‘s ills last season and his presence in Charlotte is already wearing on them.
Fox Sports 1 NBA Insider Bill Reiter claims Stephenson was the cause of Hibbert’s frustration with the team during their second half nosedive last season:
Reiter adds that Stephenson — who has struggled in his first season with the Hornets — is already causing a kerfuffle for the Hornets:
Not sure whom Reiter is talking with, but it’s obvious they’re not fan of Stephenson’s.
Through 16 games, all of Stephenson’s numbers are down from his final season in Indiana. He’s only shooting 36.8 percent from the floor and an abysmal 20.6 percent from deep, after shooting 49.1 percent and 35.2 percent last year.
Reiter’s cryptic and unsubstantiated tweets come after Hornets coach Steve Clifford said on Wednesday Stephenson wasn’t a star yet in this league:
“To be fair, one of the things that’s made it more difficult for him is that he came here and people proclaimed him as the next superstar,” Clifford said. “He’s not a star. He’s a guy that has talent to become a star. To be a star in this league, you have to do it over years.”
Clifford’s comments came after Stephenson sat on the bench for the final 20 minutes of game time during Charlotte’s 105-97 loss to Portland.
Stephenson said after the game he’s healthy, and it was his coach’s decision.
“I’m not hurt. I’m healthy. There are no more excuses. Hey, it’s Coach’s decision if he doesn’t want to play me in the fourth [quarter]. I’m just going to continue to work hard and do what it takes to win games.”
We’re not sure where the Stephenson animus originates, but it’s clear the former Pacers wing is struggling to adjust to his role with the Hornets. As for Hibbert, he is having a bounce-back year after disappearing for long stretches during the second half of last season and into the playoffs.
Through 13 games, Hibbert is averaging what would be a career high in PPG, at 13. 1 along with 7.8 rebounds in a little over 28 minutes a night. With Paul George out and Stephenson in Charlotte, it’s natural he’d get more of a role in the offense, so we’re not sure Stephenson’s absence plays a role.
Always difficult to pin down the veracity of anonymous sourcing, and while Stephenson’s body language has been poor in some tough Hornets losses, it’s hard to make a blanket statement about his time in Charlotte with so little sample size.
Will Lance ever figure it out in Charlotte?
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