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Lance Stephenson Is Back in the NBA — but Which Lance Are We Getting?

The mercurial playmaker has signed a 10-day contract with the Timberwolves. We’re hoping for Lance at his memeable best … but we aren’t holding our breath.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The Timberwolves are in a six-way dogfight for the West’s eighth and final playoff seed, but their recent four-game skid has put them 4.5 games behind the Nuggets. Their defense has sagged during the slide, giving up more than 100 points in each game and more than 115 in three of them, and they’re now down a playmaker, with Zach LaVine out for the season with a torn ACL in his left knee. So to get the team over the hump, Tom Thibodeau has turned to a mature, defense-oriented veteran in … wait a minute … the T-Wolves are signing Lance Stephenson?

It’s been a while since Stephenson was a relevant NBA player. You might remember him for the most GIF-able moment in NBA history or any of the other bizarre mind games he liked to play in Indianapolis.

I’m guessing that Thibodeau remembers that version of Lance — a solid contributor and playmaker for the Pacers, one of the Thibs’s old Central Division rivals back in his Chicago days. It wasn’t that long ago that Stephenson was one of the most polarizing young up-and-comers, playing a key role on one of the best teams in the league and pestering the best player in the NBA in consecutive Eastern Conference finals.

I remember Stephenson for something else: having the worst 3-point-shooting season of all time in Charlotte. That’s not hyperbole. Stephenson took 105 3s that season and made 18 of them. No player has ever done worse.

Lance has worked out only once: in a rigid system in Indiana, where he was one of the few playmakers on the roster. He was traded out of Charlotte less than a year after the team thought he was worth three years and $27 million. The Clippers put up with him for only eight months before moving on, and Memphis put him on the floor for just 26 games before deciding it wouldn’t pick up his player option. Then he flamed out in New Orleans after just six games and one groin injury.

Stephenson will likely flame out in Minnesota, too. But there’s a bright side to all of this: We’ll get to see him take the court with LeBron again in a week. If you can’t give the Wolves a playoff appearance, at least give us some more memes, Lance.