Just one season removed from playing at the NBA level, veteran guard Lance Stephenson put on a show in the Chinese Basketball Association this past season. However, the CBA’s upcoming season has been placed in jeopardy due to the deadly Coronavirus outbreak, leaving a window for Stephenson to explore a possible return to the NBA.
Though the CBA is still looking to resume play sometime in April, this is far from a guarantee considering the erratic nature of the virus outbreak. According to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes, given the circumstances, Stephenson is seeking a potential NBA comeback with just under 30 games remaining in the regular season.
Yahoo Sources: Free agent guard Lance Stephenson seeking return to NBA following season in China where he averaged 26.7 points, 7.4 rebounds and shot 52 percent from field. He’s willing to work out to prove his value.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) February 22, 2020
Lance Stephenson played in 68 contests for the Lakers last season and averaged over 16 minutes of playing time per game. Stephenson posted averages of 7.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.
Though Stephenson played in a limited role last season, he had proven capable in years prior of being a solid contributor of offense from the wing spot. Stephenson played the first four seasons of his career as an Indiana Pacer which was where he enjoyed the most productive seasons of his NBA tenure.
Still only 29 years old, Stephenson has plenty left in the tank physically. The question remains whether he can adapt to being a complementary role player off the bench in today’s NBA. Stephenson’s lack of a consistent outside jump shot could limit his appeal, though he did shoot a respectable 37.1% from three-point range last season.
There could be a playoff contender or two looking to add someone like Stephenson for the home stretch of the regular season. The first team that comes to mind is his former club- the Los Angeles Lakers. They’ve been on the search for a ballhandler for when de facto point guard LeBron James heads to the bench and Stephenson could fit well in that role. However, it remains to be seen whether Stephenson returning to the NBA is simply a pipe dream or if some team will actually give him a chance this season.