Lance Signs a 3 Year Deal with the Pacers

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – APRIL 04: Lance Stephenson #6 of the Indiana Pacers dribbles the ball during the 108-90 win over the Toronto Raptors at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on April 4, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP)  — The Indiana Pacers are bringing back Lance Stephenson.

More than two years after the brash 6-foot-5 guard left in free agency, the Pacers re-signed Stephenson on Thursday – just in time to fill a gaping hole as they try to make a final playoff push. Stephenson is scheduled to appear at a news conference in Indianapolis on Friday afternoon and is expected to make his first game appearance Sunday at Cleveland.

“We’re very happy to have Lance back as part of our team,” president of basketball operations Larry Bird said in a statement released by the team. “We always knew he wanted to come back here, and we feel now is the right time, not only for the rest of this season, but moving forward.”

Terms of the deal were not provided by the team. Stephenson’s listed agent, Alberto Ebanks, did not return repeated messages left by The Associated Press.

The Pacers are hoping Stephenson can breathe life back into a team that has faded in recent weeks. With two straight losses, Indiana fell from a tie for the No. 5 spot in the Eastern Conference on Tuesday into the No. 8 position heading into Thursday night. Chicago, with has an easier closing stretch, is just 1 1/2 games behind Indiana.

Bird and the Pacers already know what Stephenson can do.

Indiana took the former Cincinnati star in the second round of the 2010 draft, and he progressed from bench player to starter to routine triple-double threat. In his first four seasons with Indiana, Stephenson averaged 9.1 points and 4.4 rebounds. In the playoffs, he was even better – posting averages of 10.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists as he helped the Pacers make consecutive runs to the Eastern Conference finals.

At times, the edge Stephenson played with created problems.

During the second conference finals run, cameras caught Stephenson blowing into the ear of LeBron James – a move that drew criticism from Bird and others.

After losing the series, Stephenson wrote on Twitter: “I have much respect for LeBron and the heat. This was a great series they deserve it all love to Heat. Want to say that I’m so proud of my teammates we work so hard all year to get to point, Everything is a learning experience and getting better every year love u guys Pacer nation and thanks to all of our Pacer fans love y’all too.”

Less than two months later, Stephenson bolted in free agency and struggled to find a home.

Over the past two-plus seasons, he played for Charlotte, the Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis, New Orleans and most recently Minnesota. As recently as last month, there was even talk he could join James in Cleveland.

Instead, the Pacers gave Stephenson another chance in a time of need.

Indiana opened a roster spot Wednesday by waiving injured guard Rodney Stuckey. Two other key backups – forward Glenn Robinson III (sore left calf) and center Al Jefferson (sprained left ankle) – are not expected back before next week and Jefferson could be out until the final week of the regular season.

So Bird turned to Stephenson.

“We look forward to having a long relationship with him,” Bird said, “because we know what he can bring to our franchise, both on and off the court.”

Stephenson Returns from Ankle Injury

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – MARCH 8: Lance Stephenson #7 of the Minnesota Timberwolves goes up for a lay up against the LA Clippers on March 8, 2017 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)

Lance Stephenson knows the Minnesota Timberwolves could have moved on without him after he sprained his left ankle in a Feb. 14 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers

His initial 10-day contract expired shortly after that injury and he obviously needed time to rehab. That, coupled with the fact that the Timberwolves are locked in a dogfight for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference — they currently trail the Denver Nuggets by 2.5 games — left no guarantee they would wait around for Stephenson to get healthy. Not with the free-agent market full of other players that could immediately help with a playoff push.

Well, the Timberwolves waited, signing Stephenson to another 10-day contract on Wednesday. He played five games for the Wolves during his first 10-day stint, averaging 4.2 points in 13 minutes.

“It means a lot,” said Stephenson, a 26-year-old guard, of the Wolves signing him again. “It means they’ve got confidence in me. They see the work I’ve put in. They know that I can help this group. I’ve just got to stay healthy and keep pushing and getting better every day.”

Stephenson played 16 minutes in Wednesday’s 107-91 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers, and finished with four points, three rebounds and two assists.

“He was very good in the first half,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I thought in the second half fatigue was a little bit of a factor, which is to be expected. Overall, I thought he did good things.”

Stephenson refuted the claim that he was tired, emphasizing most important thing was his ankle felt good.

“It gets a little swollen and it goes back down after we ice it,” he said. “I’ve just got to stay on it and keep getting stronger.”

When this 10-day contract expires, the Timberwolves will need to sign Stephenson for the rest of the season to retain his rights or release him for good.

Stephenson is intent on making sure they hold on to him for the stretch run.

“I’ve got to stay solid,” he said. “I can’t try too many tricks or anything like that. Just play professional ball. Just play great defense. Just try to help my teammates every day I’m out there.”

Born Ready played a Solid 20 Minutes in his return to the lineup after being sidelined for three months

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 8: Lance Stephenson #7 of the Minnesota Timberwolves warms up before the game against the Toronto Raptors on February 8, 2017 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – FEBRUARY 8: Lance Stephenson #7 of the Minnesota Timberwolves warms up before the game against the Toronto Raptors on February 8, 2017 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)

Timberwolves’ Lance Stephenson: Scores six points in 20 minutes in debut

Stephenson registered six points (3-7 FG), four rebounds and one assist across 20 minutes off the bench in Wednesday’s 112-109 win over the Raptors.

Coach Tom Thibodeau wasted no time in integrating Stephenson, who signed a 10-day contract earlier in the day, into the team’s rotation, as he played as many minutes as starting shooting guard Brandon Rush. The Timberwolves are in need for more playmakers in the backcourt with Zach LaVine (knee) out for the season, so Stephenson could see his playing time pick up in future games as he becomes more familiar with the Wolves’ offensive sets. Considering the multi-category upside he’s shown in the past, Stephenson makes for a decent speculative pickup in deeper leagues, but he’s not worth inserting in active lineups just yet.

He’s Back, Lance Stephenson signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 8: Lance Stephenson #7 of the Minnesota Timberwolves warms up before the game against the Toronto Raptors on February 8, 2017 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – FEBRUARY 8: Lance Stephenson #7 of the Minnesota Timberwolves warms up before the game against the Toronto Raptors on February 8, 2017 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)

 

As recently as 2014, Lance Stephenson was an up-and-coming NBA player seemingly on the verge of stardom.

Three years later, he is happy to sign a 10-day contract with the Timberwolves, a move the team announced Wednesday morning.

In the time between, Stephenson bounced around from one NBA franchise to the next. After helping Indiana reach the Eastern Conference finals for the second time in two seasons, he signed a three-year deal with the Charlotte Hornets in the summer of 2014.

That didn’t work out, as Stephenson had maybe his worst year to date and was traded to the Clippers the following offseason for next to nothing. Stephenson played part of the next season in Los Angeles before being traded to Memphis, where he finished the season.

He signed with the Pelicans on a non-guaranteed deal this offseason, playing in six games before he was released after suffering a groin injury that required surgery.

Whether it be because of poor play, attitude or injury, Stephenson hasn’t been able to stick.

“He’s been his own worst enemy a lot of times, and I think he’d be the first to tell you that,” Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey said.

Stephenson is hoping that changes in Minnesota.

“I came (into the league) as a young kid, so I’ve seen a lot and I’ve learned a lot,” Stephenson said. “I feel like I’m ready for this opportunity. I just want to come in and help this squad.”

Tom Thibodeau, the Wolves’ coach and president of basketball operations, can easily recall what Stephenson was in Indiana. The Bulls, then coached by Thibodeau, and Pacers had a lot of battles back in those days.

Thibodeau saw the best of Stephenson: his toughness, competitive spirit and ability to score. And Thibodeau said one of Stephenson’s underrated characteristics is his ability to pass. Stephenson is the type of player capable of grabbing a rebound, busting out into transition and making a play.

“Anytime you can add those qualities to your team it can make everyone else better,” Thibodeau said.

But there was a lot more of that from Stephenson in Indiana than anywhere else he’s been the past few years. That’s why he signed for so little with New Orleans last summer and is playing on a 10-day deal in Minnesota.

But there’s still intrigue for a variety of reasons. Stephenson is still only 26 years old, one of the reasons Thibodeau thought he would be a good fit in Minnesota, and has shown the ability to succeed in the NBA.

“You already know he has it in him,” Thibodeau said. “Now we’ve got to get it out of him again.”

The beauty for Minnesota is this is a low-risk, high-reward proposition. If Stephenson can revive the player he was in Indiana, this signing will be a major coup for the Wolves. If Stephenson doesn’t work out, he’ll be gone by the all-star break.

No harm, no foul.

“It’s on him,” Thibodeau said. “How badly does he want to do it and the commitment that has to be made to get back?”

That question will be answered in the coming days. For now, Stephenson is saying all the right things. He sat on the couch and watched a lot of basketball over the past couple months as his groin healed. That allowed him to learn more about the game.

He is already putting in some hours in Minnesota. Stephenson said he spent time with the Wolves’ coaching staff Tuesday trying to cram in an understanding of the offense.

Stephenson is excited about the Wolves’ young talent, adding this can be a playoff team. This franchise looks to have an exciting future; one Stephenson would like to be a part of.

Stephenson appears to have a plan to make this stop different, so maybe he can stick around for more than a couple weeks, or months.

“Just my approach, coming in as a vet,” he said. “Just being very defensive-minded and setting an example. Being the first one here, last one to leave and getting with the coaches and showing the young guys what it takes to be a good vet.”

If he can do that, maybe Minnesota can catch lightning in a bottle, and possibly find another unexpected piece of its long-term future in the process.

“Hopefully he’s grown,” Thibodeau said. “And if he has, I think he can contribute to what we’re doing.”

“My job is to work hard,” Stephenson said, “prove my point and show everybody I belong in this league.”

Marquise Moore earns Third A10 Player of Week Award this Season

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Moore earns third A-10 weekly honor

1/23/2017 12:58:00 PM

FAIRFAX, Va. – For the third time this season, George Mason University men’s basketball guard Marquise Moore has been named the Atlantic 10 Player of the Week.

The Queens, N.Y., product shares the honor this week with Javonte Hawkins of Fordham. Moore – the first player to be named Atlantic 10 Player of the Week in program history – has now garnered the accolade in three of the past seven weeks. Moore and T.J. Cline (Richmond) are the only two players in the conference to win the award three times this season.

Moore posted game highs in points (25), rebounds (13) and blocks (3) while tallying two assists and two steals in Mason’s 82-77 win at Richmond Sunday. The 6-foot-2-inch senior also made 9-of-16 field goal attempts and 7-of-10 free throws. The 25 points tied his career high and helped the Queens, N.Y., product post his A-10 leading 12th double-double of the season.

Moore notched 15 of his 25 points in the second half to help the Patriots hang on during a big Spiders’ comeback late in the game. That included four free throws down the stretch, including two in a 1-and-1 situation with Mason clinging to a five point lead (75-70, 3:43 to go).

Moore and the Patriots return to action Wednesday against rival George Washington. Tip-off inside EagleBank Arena is set for 7 p.m.

To purchase tickets, click here.

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Born Ready Elite Class of 2021 Prospect

#AdidasSelect Session I: Class of 2021 Guard Recap

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by The Prep Insiders StaffJanuary 26 2017

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. – The transition is complete as the Class of 2021 is now the focal point of youth basketball. This group has roughly eight months remaining before they hit the high school scouting/recruiting scene and the Adidas Select Series provided a taste of the competition these players will face at the next stage of their hoops journey. Here are the backcourt prospects that impressed during Session I of the Adidas Select Series…


Brayon Freeman is one of the more talented guards in the DMV region from the Class of 2021 at this stage and his confidence and competitiveness are intangibles he uses to his advantage. He’s a natural scorer with evolving playmaking abilities and showed an improved handle and increased explosiveness at Session I of the Adidas Select Series. The next step for Freeman is to improve his court presence, taking command and dictating tempo offensively, while consistently asserting himself on the defensive end.


Jalen Miller is a strong guard and blossoming floor general that showed an ability to knock down shots as well as make plays in the lane during Session I of the Adidas Select Series. He can lead the break in transition and manage an offense in the halfcourt but his lateral quickness and vertical explosiveness will be monitored for improvement. Miller is a critical piece for his team because of his versatility in the backcourt and he’s at his best when focused on facilitating and hitting jumpers in rhythm.


Erik Reynolds is an agile yet tenacious combo guard that blended scoring and playmaking throughout Session I of the Adidas Select Series. His ability to score the basketball within the flow of his team’s offense, while also contributing on the defensive end of the floor, helped his squad to a strong opening weekend performance. The DMV native to utilizes his quick hands and feet to harass opposing ball-handlers and his overall impact is likely to increase as his confidence continues to grow.


Casey Simmons was one of the most intriguing prospects from the Class of 2021 during Session I of the Adidas Select Series due to his combination of size and skills. He’s a reliable ball-handler in the halfcourt, is capable of attacking of the bounce, and displayed excellent touch around the paint area. Defensively, Simmons’ length is disruptive, and he has the physical tools necessary to defend multiple positions. He’s surely one to keep an eye on for improvement and growth as the Adidas Select Series moves forward.


God’sLove Ukpe proved to be an athletic specimen at Session I of the Adidas Select Series. While his team’s success was limited, Ukpe’s effort did not waver, as the strong and explosive perimeter prospect was consistently aggressive on both sides of the floor. At his best when attacking with limited dribbles from the wing, Ukpe plays above the rim, and showed the ability to absorb contact and convert tough finishes in the lane. Despite playing out of position defensively, the high-flying slasher showed heart in defending the post, and was among the event’s unofficial leaders in rebounds.


 

Adrien Nunez is a Big Time Shooter and Sleeper in the class of 2017

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A sharpshooting extraordinaire, 6’5″ Adrien Nunez (Bishop Loughlin ’17) may not get the same kind of love or attention that some of his teammates do but he is most definitely someone who can change a game with his perimeter prowess.

While known as a great shooter, Nunez has also proven to be someone who can be a solid rebounder, while also be able to the handle the ball a bit some as well, which is why Lions head coach Ed Gonzalez finds it so hard to believe that college coaches aren’t knocking down his door to recruit his talented senior wing.

A veteran on the varsity level, Nunez is someone who Gonzalez has strong feelings about. He knows the talent that he has and believes that we have yet to see just how good Nunez can become.

“He is so versatile and he really has come into his own yet,” Gonzalez said about Nunez. “I think the best is yet to come for Adrien and we definitely believe in him. He shoots the ball extremely well and adds a lot of firepower to our team.”

Being able to confidently play either the 3 or 4 spots on the floor, Nunez says that he feels he is a versatile player who can play all over the floor when asked to.

He knows that it’s his shooting touch that draws the most attention from defenses, but he feels he can make plays off the dribble, while also scoring inside on putback attempts off the offensive glass.

That is why it’s so frustrating for Nunez that he is currently in the position that he is in. He feels he has been overlooked by everyone outside of Bishop Loughlin for 2 years now and he just wants 1 chance so that he can take advantage of it.

“Being overlooked gets really annoying but I just go out and play as hard as I can every day,” Nunez said. “This is my last year and I just want to prove that I belong and that I deserve a scholarship.”

He wants a scholarship because so far none have been extended to him which is something that Gonzalez just doesn’t understand. He sees Nunez as a definite Division 1 player with his skill set from the outside and he feels a lot of schools near and far are truly missing the boat.

LIU Post and Merrimack and a couple Division 2 schools that have showed interest, but it’s shocking to Gonzalez that no D1’s have gotten involved for the player that he feels has the prettiest jump shot in America.

Gonzalez says he hopes that will soon change as he continues to prove his worth as he isn’t only a great basketball player in his coach’s eyes, but a great person as well and someone who any school would be extremely lucky to have.

“Not only is Adrien a good player but he is a 95 student too so you will not only get someone who can really play the game, but you will get an extraordinary student with great character as well.”

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