Lance Stephenson is an unrestricted free agent this summer and is garnering a ton of attention from a lot of teams around the league. But, as of today, there is no real frontrunner to acquire Stephenson’s talents. Do the Brooklyn Nets have a shot to bring home their native son and breathe some life back into the city?
Stephenson has emerged as the best basketball player to come from Brooklyn in recent memory and is finally living up to all of the potential that was seen in his younger days. He is the all-time leading scorer in New York state basketball history while playing for Brooklyn’s own Lincoln High School. He is beloved all across the boroughs, so his impending free agency immediately starting creating some chatter amongst Nets’ fans about bringing him back home.
— Chris (@cgriglik95) June 4, 2014
— Tar Melar (@Tyler_Mellaci) June 4, 2014
— BrooklynNetsFanClub (@bknfc) June 4, 2014
But there are a handful of problems that would need to be sorted out before the Nets could even think about locking down one of the most coveted free agents on the market. The most obvious problem is that Brooklyn simply can’t pay him the amount of money that he is likely to receive on the open market.
The Nets can only offer him the taxpayer mid-level exception, which would be a salary around $3.3 million for next year. Would he really take that much of a discount to come back to the city he grew up in? Unlikely.
Another concern would be that the Nets would be unable to re-sign their rejuvenated guard Shaun Livingston, if they were to somehow be able to pick up Stephenson. The reason is simply that they wouldn’t be able to use their mid-level exception on Livingston because they would have used it on the former Pacer.
It should also be noted that Livingston will be able to fetch a bigger contract in free agency than the Nets are able to give him. Taking a run at Lance and not getting him would put Brooklyn in quite a predicament as they would essentially be letting Livingston go in the process.
Brooklyn is in a complete financial disaster this offseason due to the contracts handed out to Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, and Kevin Garnett in previous years. So while these rumors are fun to speculate on and dream about, the reality is that Billy King would have to pull off a miracle to convince Stephenson to take less money so he can play in front of all of his family and friends. There is a slight glimmer of hope in Brooklyn but it will likely end with disappointment.
If you’ve already ordered a customized “Born Ready” jersey, then you may want to pump the brakes a little bit and weigh money against hometown pride.