Yahoo Sources: Clippers, Hornets discussing a trade centered on Lance Stephenson. http://t.co/cDDCNs2Pn7— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 15, 2015
Wojnarowski elaborates on the potential terms of the trade:
The Clippers would send forwards Spencer Hawes and Matt Barnes to the Hornets, sources said. Talks have been ongoing for several days, but the proposed deal is yet to be considered imminent.
Lance Stephenson, who was a standout defender on the Indiana Pacers a couple of years ago, had an awful season last year with the Charlotte Hornets, shooting only 37% from the field and 17% from deep after posting 46/33 and 49/35 splits in his two seasons as a major contributor in Indiana.
Stephenson signed a 3-year, $27.4 million contract with the Hornets last summer, which would leave the Clippers paying him $9,000,000 for 2015-2016 with a team option for $9,400,000 in 2016-2017. This means that the team could decline his option after one season should he be underwhelming, essentially leaving them with over $5 million in extra cap space instead of Spencer Hawes' salary for 2016-2017 and 2017-2018.
It's a tough call and a big risk for the Clippers, who clearly need another piece to get over the hump, but could be crippled by trading away their only productive SF should Stephenson not perform this coming season. Barnes is headed into the last season of his contract where he will make just over $3.5 million, but his salary is only $1 million guaranteed should Charlotte waive him by the start of free agency. Despite being a 35-year-old journeyman, Barnes was excellent most of the season, posting the second-best season of his career from behind the arc. Hawes, on the other hand, had a down season and found his way out of the rotation, but has three years and over $17 million remaining on his contract, along with a 15% trade kicker that would bump up his salary on a new team.
It also is a statement about how the Clippers treat their new acquisitions. Two summers ago, the Clippers traded for Jared Dudley, only to send him away in a salary dump after a poor first season. Last summer, their big acquisition was Spencer Hawes, and he never found his role on the squad. Dumping him after just one year sends a dangerous message to future free agents: why should players take pay cuts to commit to the Clippers if the Clippers don't show that same commitment to their predecessors? Furthermore, if the deal goes through Lance will surely be the biggest new acquisition for the team, and it's no secret that he'd be likely to flare out, leaving the Clippers to dump their third acquisition in a row next summer.
Stephenson is only 24 years old (turning 25 before the season starts) and he would bring youth and athleticism to a Clippers team that, despite the prolific athleticism of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, is largely old and unathletic on the perimeter. The Clippers' current major wing players, J.J. Redick, Jamal Crawford, and Barnes, are all over 30, with Crawford and Barnes both being 35. However, Lance is only 6'5" and played almost exclusively at SG in his time with Indiana before playing some minutes at SF as well last season with Charlotte.