Lance Stephenson officially introduced by Hornets
Lance Stephenson hopes to be the final piece in the Charlotte Hornets’ quest for an NBA championship.
The 6-foot-5 guard was introduced as the newest member of the team during a press conference Friday at Time Warner Cable Arena.
“I just want to thank the Hornets for picking me up. I’m very excited,” Stephenson said. “It’s like a new beginning for me just meeting new teammates. I’m familiar with Kemba Walker, Al Jefferson and (Michael) Kidd-Gilchrist. I think I’ll definitely fit in. I’m excited. I can’t wait.”
The Hornets’ roster wasn’t the only selling point for Stephenson, who also admires head coach Steve Clifford.
“(Clifford) is definitely a defensive coach,” Stephenson said. “He has a lot of experience. He definitely pushes his players. I need that from my coach. I know he loves to win. Everybody loves to win. I definitely love to win. We’ve got a group of guys that love to win.”
Hornets General Manager Rich Cho believes Stephenson is “one of the best young players in the league.”
“There were a number of reasons why we wanted to bring Lance into the fold,” Cho said. “We can’t be more thrilled to have him here.”
Stephenson joins point guard Walker — both former prep standouts and rivals in New York — to solidify a formidable force in the Hornets’ backcourt.
“Me and Kemba grew up playing against each other,” Stephenson said. “I’ve had the chance to play with him before. He’s very competitive. I know me and him in the backcourt is going to be great for the team. It’s going to bring a lot of excitement and bring a lot of wins to the team.”
Stephenson turned down a five-year deal from the Indiana Pacers worth approximately $44 million to join Charlotte.
“It was definitely a tough decision,” Stephenson said of his free agency. “I definitely grew up there and learned a lot from Larry (Bird) and my teammates that were in front of me. It was a great experience. I feel like I could bring a winning experience and that defensive edge to the Hornets.”
Stephenson led the NBA with five triple-doubles last season and has career averages of 13.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game.
Cho believes Stephenson’s signing opens the doors for the future of the Charlotte franchise.
“I think it’s a really positive sign for the Hornets that last year we got Al Jefferson to come here as a free agent,” Cho said. “We’re thrilled to have Lance come here as a free agent. I think it shows that Charlotte and the Charlotte Hornets organization is a free agent destination.”
NBA fans might remember Stephenson from his infamous incident this past postseason with former NBA MVP Lebron James.
Stephenson hopes fans won’t define him by that act.
“I feel like that overshadowed my play on the court,” Stephenson said. “I feel like I bring more to the table than blowing in someone’s ear. I’m definitely a great player, and I bring a lot to the table.”
Cho believes Stephenson is the perfect fit for the Hornets franchise.
“We had a number goals (this offseason), but one of the primary goals was to improve our scoring and our defense and our play-making ability,” Cho said. “We really feel like Lance fills all of those.”