The Clippers are sending forwards Spencer Hawes and Matt Barnes to the Hornets, sources said. The teams were having a trade call with the NBA office to finalize the deal on Monday evening, sources said.
For the Clippers, this is a fascinating acquisition. Stephenson, 24, is a talented but temperamental player who turned out to be a free-agent bust for the Hornets. Charlotte has been desperate to unload Stephenson since early in the 2014-15 season.
Nevertheless, the Clippers needed athletic, talented wing players to compete in the Western Conference, and there’s hope Stephenson will fit better into a more talented, veteran-laden Clippers team that more closely resembles the Indiana Pacers than the Charlotte Hornets did. The Clippers are strapped under the salary cap and need to find creative ways to improve their roster.
Stephenson has two years left on his contract, but the 2016-17 season is a team option of $9.4 million. So, the Clippers will be committed to paying him the $9 million owed this season – and could then let him go if things don’t work out. For Clippers president and coach Doc Rivers, he’s counting on Stephenson to recapture the production of his four seasons in Indiana, where he developed into an important player on a two-time Eastern Conference finalist.
The Clippers are considering the idea of using Stephenson as the primary ballhandler when All-Star Chris Paul is out of the game, league sources said. Stephenson struggled with the way Charlotte point guard Kemba Walker dominated the ball on offense, and will assuredly find a similar situation with Paul in Los Angeles.
Hawes has three years and $17 million-plus left on a free-agent deal that he signed in summer 2014. He struggled for the Clippers and was unable to consistently crack the rotation. The Hornets are desperate for perimeter shooting, and he gives them a stretch-4 man with good 3-point range and passing skills.
The Hornets will likely buy out Barnes' contract before July 1, when they would only have to pay him $1 million of the $3.5 million owed him, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
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