Lance Stephenson‘s questionable antics have been well-documented over the years. It’s enough to give any prospective employer considerable pause. When you add that to the categorical failure that was his 2014-2015 season with the Charlotte Hornets, it became a serious question as to whether the risk involved with signing Stephenson would be worth the potential reward. That’s a question the Los Angeles Clippers did not take lightly before trading for him this summer.
In fact, they went above and beyond when performing their due diligence, stopping just short of hiring a private investigator and/or requisitioning the NSA to see what they might dig up on the controversial forward. Via Sam Amick of USA Today Sports:
Rivers, who did not know Stephenson previously, was the first to admit that the Clippers had to do more due diligence than normal. Whereas the normal background check would typically warrant approximately 20 phone calls to people who know the player well, Rivers and Clippers general manager Dave Wohl made 61 such inquiries during their research of Stephenson.
“I don’t think we’ve ever made more (background) calls for a player in my life,” Rivers said. “We had to make sure, but I’ve got to tell you that I’m really excited. It’s one game (in the regular season), but I think he has a chance to be really disruptive to other teams. And what I love is he gives us another ball handler, and you can see that with the first group.”
In Los Angeles, Stephenson is in a perfect position to start revising the narrative of his once-promising career. He has a coach in Doc Rivers who has plenty of experience handling disparate and often difficult personalities, as well as a group of veteran teammates to help keep him focused. Perhaps most important, he’ll have significantly less pressure to be the main attraction that he was expected to be in Charlotte.
And the early returns are reason for optimism. He played well during the preseason and worked his way into the startling lineup. The Clippers are hoping he can regain some of that confidence that made him such a young dynamic prospect in Indiana, but it’s a long season, and there are bound to be some bumps along the way. The question is how Stephenson will handle it.
(Via USA Today Sports)