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Al Jefferson is excited about Lance Stephenson coming to Charlotte

Jul 19, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT

Charlotte Bobcats v Miami Heat - Game Two Getty Images

LAS VEGAS — Charlotte had what is considered one of the stronger, more professional locker rooms in the NBA last season. Veteran big man Al Jefferson and his steady demeanor was a big part of that.

Now Lance Stephenson is being injected into that mix — and Jefferson is pumped about it.

“I’m excited about Lance,” Jefferson said in the hall outside the Hornets locker room at the Thomas & Mack Center, where he had shown up to watch Charlotte eliminate New York from the Summer League tournament. “We’re all going to be on the same page as far as defense, and defense dictates the offense.

“But Lance is a playmaker. That’s the reason he led the NBA in triple-doubles last year. He’s got this nastiness about his game that you want on your team. I was really excited to hear he signed with us and he wanted to do that. I think he’s got a lot to prove, and he wants to show people he can be a great superstar in this league.”

Jefferson, not a guy known as a defensive stalwart through his career, focused a lot on defense in his comments (and he played it better last year for Steve Clifford, too).

“We were sixth in the NBA in defense and that is the reason we had the success we had so we just got to continue to do all that,” Jefferson said of a Hornets (then Bobcats) team that won 43 games and made the playoffs.

The concern with Stephenson around the league and giving him big money is how that would impact his already questionable maturity issues. But the lack of a market for his services (compared to what he expected), Michael Jordan sitting him down and telling him to cut out the antics, and that solid locker room make Charlotte the perfect team to roll the dice in Stephenson.

In a wide open East, Charlotte is a very interesting team. Not a contender, but interesting.

  1. shadowgamesshades - Jul 19, 2014 at 9:37 PM

    I bet Lance Stephenson is excited about playing with a center that can post up and rebound.

  2. saint1997 - Jul 19, 2014 at 9:39 PM

    “Not a contender in the East”…yet. I honestly think with Big Al, Kemba, Lance and Vonleh along with some pretty solid depth across the board, this team can make some serious noise in years to come

    • vikes69 - Jul 19, 2014 at 9:59 PM

      pj hariston can be instant offense of the bench too, or you can slide lance to the 3 with pj

      • saint1997 - Jul 19, 2014 at 10:01 PM

        and MKG is a great defensive option for the SFs in the East they will have to take (Melo, PG, LeBron, Pierce, maybe Deng and even McDermott)

    • 00maltliquor - Jul 20, 2014 at 2:54 AM

      I think they are a contender in the East with the Heat not being The Heatles anymore and the Pacers LOSING Lance. I think it’s wide open.

      • saint1997 - Jul 20, 2014 at 4:16 AM

        The East is very wide open. With the Pacers, Bulls, Cavs, Wizards, Raptors, Hawks, Hornets, Knicks, Heat and even the Nets it’s truly competitive

      • 00maltliquor - Jul 20, 2014 at 10:16 AM

        LOL, you had me all the way up until you said the Knicks and Hawks!

      • saint1997 - Jul 21, 2014 at 1:43 AM

        Not so sure on why you’d think that. The Knicks still have a solid team with much more youth and a top 3 scorer in the NBA and a top 10 player. The Hawks have a solid starting 5, including 2 borderline All-Stars in Horford and Millsap. I wouldn’t bet against them in the playoffs

      • 00maltliquor - Jul 21, 2014 at 2:41 AM

        Neither would I as far as playoffs are concerned. They fight hard for the roster they have. I was saying that because as a “contender”, NOPE. Same thing with NYK. I could easily see those other teams in the Finals (not nessacarily to win it all, but to at least get there.)

  3. phluffyclouds - Jul 19, 2014 at 9:45 PM

    Ahhh so excited for opening night at the Hive!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. longtallsam - Jul 19, 2014 at 10:29 PM

    What’s worrisome is adding two head cases to the team, in Stephenson and PJ Hairston. Someone has said this could be the second coming of Gilbert Arenas & Javaris Crittendon. Hopefully, players like Jefferson will have a settling influence on Stepenson & Hairston.

  5. 88heatnation - Jul 19, 2014 at 10:52 PM

    It would be nice to see Lance and Big AL notch their first All-Star appearance for the new revamped Hornets

  6. aldavis4president - Jul 20, 2014 at 12:37 AM

    This team is ready! They got defense, a ALL STAR big (snubbed throughout his career), and a play making back court. Mkg and Henderson are also underrated swing men. Look out for Charlotte, Toronto, and Washington this year. The west can’t come to the east for easy wins anymore I don’t think.

  7. antistratfordian - Jul 20, 2014 at 1:42 AM

    I wonder if those were “playing for a payday” triple doubles. Is Lance the type of guy to take his foot off the gas after signing a contract?

    I guess we’ll find out.

    • 00maltliquor - Jul 20, 2014 at 2:56 AM

      Maybe not. Signing that shorter deal will keep him honest. He’s really gunning for a max deal, and he has 3 (really 2) years to prove it.

      • antistratfordian - Jul 20, 2014 at 2:59 PM

        That can be a good thing or a bad thing. I think gunning for deals is what turned Paul George off.

  8. elcaminobilly - Jul 20, 2014 at 2:16 AM

    I predict Charlotte will be ranked 5th in the East in 2014-15, but 4th would not be much of a surprise either.

  9. dbfan4ever - Jul 20, 2014 at 3:32 PM

    Bird is destroying the Pacers! First we trade a first round pick for Scola then we trade granger for Turner and now we let Pance walk because he wouldn’t sign a five year deal! Bird must be getting advice from Isaiah Thomas

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