Lance Stephenson was waived by the Pelicans on Monday, two days after the team learned that a groin injury he suffered would require surgery and sideline him indefinitely. While the move may seem like a cold one on the surface, New Orleans did so to free up a much-needed roster spot.
The Pelicans were already missing Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans and Quincy Pondexter when Stephenson went down, and immediately used the roster spot to sign 22-year-old Archie Goodwin, who showed occasional flashes in Phoenix but was unexpectedly waived by the Suns a week before the regular season.
Stephenson will continue to be paid while he recovers, and will have the help of the team's training staff as he works his way back.
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“Lance did everything that we could possibly ask him to do,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said, via ESPN. “He was great on and off the court. It was just a situation where we had to have a roster spot to add an addition to our team. If Lance was not hurt, he would still be here and he would still be playing minutes.”
Stephenson, 26, has bounced around since his days battling LeBron James in the playoffs as a member of the Indiana Pacers. After stints with the Clippers and Grizzlies last season, Stephenson landed in New Orleans on a deal that was only partially guaranteed. He averaged 9.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and a career-best 4.8 assists in 27 minutes per contest through the first six games of the season.
Although the Stephenson contract is guaranteed for $100k, NOP is on the hook until he recovers from his injury and returns.