After the Celtics signed Avery Bradley, you might have thought the rumor mill was going to pass Boston by.
Don’t worry. Chris Broussard has you covered (take this, along with every other rumor, with the requisite salt).
In addition to Dallas & Lakers, Boston also showing interest in Lance Stephenson, source said
— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 7, 2014
There are lots of possibilities here, in part because Stephenson is such a multi-faceted player. He can score, pass and rebound. He can create for himself and his teammates, and he’s a nasty on-ball defender. Boston’s defensive lineup would still be a nightmare for opposing ball-handlers, and Stephenson would be another player who can take the pressure off the undersized interior players (Sully and Olynyk) who aren’t mobile enough to help on penetrating wings and recover to defend opposing bigs.
Also possible: Minnesota may have indicated that they are interested in Stephenson, if Boston can bring him aboard. This would certainly qualify as a “creative” option.
It would also be incredibly risky on Minnesota’s part. If Stephenson signed with the Celtics with the expectation of playing for a playoff contender within a couple of years, he might cause some serious problems if he was dealt to a team like the Wolves who — despite their best efforts — aren’t going to be contenders in the loaded West barring some kind of miracle.
I don’t buy the Timberwolves scenario because I don’t buy that the Wolves would want a disgruntled Lance Stephenson causing problems. If Boston signs Born Ready, it seems likely they want to keep him around.
This might not be as risky as it looks on the surface. A Rajon Rondo/Marcus Smart/Stephenson locker room may sound volatile in theory, but apart from his isolated incident in college, Smart has given us very little reason to believe he’s anything less than a competitive player who is willing to work within whichever role he is assigned. As long as that role helps Boston moving forward, he isn’t likely to be a problem. Meanwhile, Rondo’s “volatile” nature is severely overblown. He can be prickly in the locker room when microphones are on, but when they are off, his problems generally seem to lie with players who don’t seem to be trying. Lance Stephenson, for all of his many well-documented faults, can’t be accused of not trying. Perhaps those energies could be better channeled at times, but Stephenson is an intense competitor.
There will likely be a flood of comments on this post saying (paraphrased) “I don’t want Lance Stephenson, he’s a (pick a description) thug/clown/idiot/trouble-maker.” There is legitimacy to those concerns. Stephenson is intriguing, but he’s also a wildcard. If the Celtics are bad and Stephenson finds himself playing for a team he hates, things could get out of control quickly.
Boston would be banking on Stephenson’s recent upward trend. His general insanity will prevent him from getting a max deal that might be due a different player with his same skillset and numbers, but if he continues his upward trend, he will quickly be worth more than the next contract he receives.
If the Celtics sign him, grit your teeth. The ride is about to get wild.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.