@LanceToBrooklyn campaign on Twitter picked up steam Tuesday night, but for any one of a number of reasons, it's far-fetched. It would take a dramatic drop in his value across the league, a decision by the Nets to pursue him and an agreement by Lance Stephenson to accept way less than his market value as a hometown discount.
As we wrote this weekend, Marc Stein thinks the market for the 6'5", 23-year-old Brooklyn native is "drying up" because of his antics in the just concluded Pacers-Heat series where Stephenson's attempt to get inside LeBron James; head failed miserably. LeBron was LeBron and the Heat won in six.
So Stephenson's market is "drying up as Stein wrote?" How much? Has it so dried up so much that the Nets, his hometown team, might have a chance with a $3.3 million/$10 million offer? That's it in a nutshell. That Nets could offer the Mini-MLE. No fourth or fifth year, if he chooses to re-sign with Indiana. There's no sign-and-trade possibility either. Brooklyn is too far over the cap. A three-year $10.3 million deal would be a big low-ball. Seems far-fetched for a 23-year-old who led the NBA in triple-doubles with six.
Moreover have NO idea if the Nets front office has any interest in Stephenson. And if the Nets were interested, it would mean they'd have to any realistic hope of retaining Shaun Livingston, who is Mister Reliability, something Stephenson is not.
On the other side of the ledger, the benefits for Stephenson are all psychic, not real. He would be returning to Brooklyn, if the Nets had any interest. There's some psychic reward there, maybe even some endorsements playing off his bad boy image but hardly enough to compensate for lost wages ... and that lost year (or two if re-signs with the Pacers.).
Sure, there are ways for Stephenson to play for Brooklyn and preserve his flexibility down the line, after his reputation is restored. He could sign a three-year deal with a team option after his first year just as Andrei Kirilenko did when he realized that his asking price was too high. But that all depends on either the Nets pulling a mini-MLE offer to Livingston or Livingston rejecting it.
Our own Dexter Henry, who covered Stephenson at Lincoln High School, interviewed Stephenson last November about joining the Nets this summer. First of all, Stephenson talked about how thrilled he is that Brooklyn has a team.
"When I was young, I always dreamed for an NBA team to be in Brooklyn and now it's really happening," said Stephenson who broke the New York State high school scoring record at the Coney Island school.
But Stephenson wouldn't comment when Dex asked if he would like to play for his hometown team.
"Aw you can't ask me that question," said a smiling Stephenson. "The future holds itself but I love my team, I love the Pacers. I would love to stay with my team. I'm happy with my team."
Now, it appears that his teammates don't love him. But that's now, in the days after a bitter loss. Things are likely to change. His GM, Larry Bird, and his coach, Frank Vogel, said they want him back, although no one is yet talking money
So, it's unlikely, highly unlikely, and the obvious downside would be losing Livingston. Then there's this footnole: The Nets considered buying a second rounder in 2010 as he was coming out of Cincinnati. They passed on the idea after examining his record, particularly his arrest for brutally beating up his girlfriend. Lots of downside then, still some now.
Is this an off-season bubble? Sure. Is it fun to come up with memes of him in Nets uniform, lying on the O'Brien Trophy. Sure, why not? But don't get your hopes up.