Lance Is With Wolves: Minnesota to sign Lance Stephenson to 10-day contract

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When the Minnesota Timberwolves waived John Lucas III, it gave them an empty roster spot to use either in a trade or to absorb a 10-day player into the rotation should an injury occur. After Zach LaVine tore his ACL and ended his 2016-17 season, the Wolves immediately needed wing depth. For the next 10 days and possibly more, it looks like they’re going to fill that need with “veteran presence” Lance Stephenson.

Shams Charania of The Vertical is reporting Tom Thibodeau will sign the former Indiana Pacers wing to a 10-day deal. Depending on how he plays, that will open up the chance to sign Stephenson to a second 10-day deal and maybe even the rest of the regular season.

There are two initial reactions to a move like this: 1) hope that he figures out how to contribute again and makes the most of this opportunity, which helps the Wolves tremendously, and 2) mother of god why?

To Stephenson’s credit, his ability to be disruptive defensively still exists. He can be a pest on the ball and he’s long and strong enough to work through pick-and-roll coverage to keep up with the ball handler. Those are important attributes the Wolves will need when he’s on the court. If you can get a half second more for Gorgui Dieng and Karl-Anthony Towns to react and load up against a drive to the hoop, that could be the difference between a bucket and a stop.

He’s also a playmaker. In his six games in New Orleans earlier this season and his one year in Charlotte a couple years ago, Lance was able to rack up assists and find teammates some good shots. The playmaking isn’t paramount with Towns and Rubio on the court, but it’s been lacking in the second unit. If he’s able to set Nemanja Bjelica up for a 3-pointer or hit Kris Dunn on a cut to the hoop or get a better shot for Shabazz Muhammad, we might see more production out of a pretty anemic bench.

However, that’s where the superlatives for Stephenson end. Those seem to be best-case scenario realities for this signing. He can’t really shoot. Yes, he had a solid contract year shooting from outside and even his split time with the Clippers and Grizzlies showed a consistent shooting stroke from 3-point range. He’s still a career 30.5% 3-point shooter and 34.5% from mid-range. He was also a poor finisher around the rim after he signed in Charlotte, but at least curbed that a bit over the last season.

This move is a Band-Aid on a wound that needs stitches. Maybe that bandage lasts for the next 2.5 months and the Wolves get a boost on the bench. I’m going to guess that he doesn’t find his way in Minnesota and they have to circle back at some point to try something new.

There are options in the D-League if and when that becomes the case for the Wolves. Vander Blue could be a fun experiment for the Wolves’ rotation. Kevin Murphy would be a legitimate 3-point threat for the Wolves’ bench. There are options available assuming Stephenson doesn’t pan out. But we’ll have to see how those 10 days go first.

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7 Responsesso far.

  1. gjk says:

    I have opinions about how much I dislike this signing, but I just can’t get past the first 4 words of that headline…

    • gjk says:

      Also worth mentioning that last season I heard the TV mics pick up KG on the court while free throws were being shot say to someone on the Clippers that he “would be out of the league in a year,” and I’m pretty sure it was Lance because his teammates on the floor were CP3, Redick, Blake, and DeAndre.

  2. pyrrol says:

    After last night it sorta seems like we need someone who can sorta shoot threes. So this isn’t an attractive addition. At the same time, we need warm bodies at this point and Lance is an actual NBA player with some grit. They way Thibs has been running things, he’s not likely to play that much either way. With all our roster openings one would think we could have gotten something a little better as a stopgap. Still, I’m not super upset by this either.

  3. Tom says:

    Smart move by Thibs. This is a no lose situation for the coach. Lance plays defense, something Wiggins seems partially motivated to do. His three point shooting is actually similar to Wiggins. He is a better passer and rebounder than Wiggins. After last night’s game, it was clear to anyone watching that Andrew may need some motivation. How about bringing in a guy on a 10 day, that can do what Thibs wants and show young Andrew that if he doesn’t want to elevate his overall game for 35 minutes every night, he may not be the Batman connected to KAT Superman, but maybe closer to a 10 day player in the near future. Lance may only be a 20 day player for the Wolves, but that may be enough to reengage at least one of his stars.

    I would like to see them go get another big before the trading deadline. Someone that kind of possesses the shot-blocking or defensive push against the bigger bigs of the league. An Eric Moreland, Keith Benson or Dakari Johnson in the D League. Lifers that want another chance in the big leagues.

    I think Thibs understands that he isn’t connecting with his players to make them see that only a commitment to defense is going to win them games. They aren’t going to beat people by outscoring them. His bench doesn’t have a great defensive player, so bringing in someone who can play D and maybe is hungry enough to push some players is a good thing. I say, he shouldn’t worry about his bench minutes anymore. I think he knows that outside of Baz, he really doesn’t have much worth worrying about

  4. enai says:

    Yuck. So a guy who can’t shoot, is an overrated defender, hasn’t been able to stay on an NBA roster, and has a domestic violence background. How is that better than signing literally ANY undrafted free agent from this last year’s rookie class? Or like, ANY random Joe from the local YMCA? Disgusting.

  5. Tom says:

    I realize that Stevenson isn’t a savior, or even a good guy. What I think he is, is a motivator. Our stars are coasting a little and getting someone with an edge to himself will be a good addition to this team. They don’t need more inexperience. What they need is a young Bruce Bowen or Dennis Rodman to play defense and provide tough mindedness. I agree Lance is not either of those, but he does come with an edge, and these guys need to get some. They have enough offensive talent to win most games, if they can stop giving teams 71 points in a half and free lanes to the basket for bigs and scoring point guards every night, they might win a few games too.

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