A potential three-way trade that would have sent Charlotte Hornets guard Lance Stephenson to the Brooklyn Nets unraveled Friday morning.
The original deal would have sent Stephenson to Brooklyn, Nets center Brook Lopez to the Oklahoma City Thunder and various Nets and Thunder players – possibly point guard Jarrett Jack and shooting guard Jeremy Lamb – to the Hornets.
A knowledgeable source told the Observer Friday morning that the deal was dormant, if not dead. The Nets pulled away from negotiations and are now exploring other options to move Lopez’s contract.
One-time All-Star Lopez has this season on his contract at a salary of just more than $15.7 million and a player option for next season at a salary of about $16.8 million.
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At 16-23 the Nets have the eighth-best record in the Eastern Conference, 1 1/2 games ahead of the Hornets and the Indiana Pacers. The Nets appear to be looking to reduce payroll with team owner Mikhail Prokhorov in the process of putting the Nets up for sale.
The Hornets signed New York native Stephenson in July to a three-year, $27.4 million contract with the last season at the team’s option. He has not played particularly well, shooting 39 percent from the field and 15 percent from 3-point range.
After missing 14 games with a pelvic sprain, Stephenson played Wednesday in a home loss to the San Antonio Spurs. He came off the bench and scored eight points in 18 minutes.
It’s common knowledge around the NBA that the Hornets have been looking for a trade for Stephenson. That they’d be open to taking back Jack and Lamb, two players who would be reserves in Charlotte, speaks to what they’d accept in compensation to move on from the Stephenson signing.
The Hornets went 9-5 in Stephenson’s absence and are 15-25 overall.
Stephenson played his first four NBA seasons with the Indiana Pacers. He missed part of the preseason with a groin injury and has said several times that his transition to the Hornets has been more difficult than he anticipated.
Part of the difficulty in assimilating him is that both Stephenson and point guard Kemba Walker need the ball a lot to be effective. Stephenson isn’t so much a spot-up shooter – the most logical complement to Walker – as a dribble-driver who feeds teammates on the move.
The Hornets have about a month to pursue other deals, as the NBA’s annual trade deadline is Feb. 19.